By Obegi Malack
A bus stage is among the most annoying places to hang out for a Kenyan because of the touts who can mishandle you and abuse you if you refuse to board their matatu.
Joseph Muchoki, who has been in the matatu business, is now among the professional property managers and consultants in Kajiado County.
The businessman, who is popularly known as Bonny Njagua, says he started operating a matatu in 2000 after he completed secondary school in 1999.
Being fresh from school, he had to learn to survive for himself and the matatu business was the only option for him. He rented a house in Kware in Nkaimurunya.After working, he received Sh 20 per matatu which ended up in food and rent which was then Sh 150.
“I was among the first touts in Rongai. We were few and we were good boys who respected passengers,” he said. There were only thirty matatus.
After a year in touting, he was upgraded to a matatu driver and started plying root 126 Rongai -Kiserian. Things were good for him before the introduction of Michuki rules that faced out most drivers. The rules, which came into effect in February 2004, saw more than 90,000 drivers and conductors kicked out of the public service transports.
Njagua was 21 years when the Michuki rules took effect. The rules required that the minimum age of PSV drivers should be 24 years.
His exit from the matatu industry saw him seek employment in the beauty industry. He was employed as a barber, a job he did for 4 years.
The barber shop business connected him to many people such as property owners and tenants who live in the town. He built a good relationship with them.
“When I was working as a barber, my clients used to inquire about vacant houses to rent and others asked me to market their vacant houses,” he said. This is where he saw a gap in the property market and jumped in.
He opened a property company in 2006 and his clients were people he used to shave for many years.
Njagua says that after a few years in the property market, landlords begun trusting him. This is because his clients stayed in their rented homes for long. He started receiving many offers to manage houses around in Olkeri, Rongai and Nkaimurunya wards.
Njagua says through his good relationship with tenants, he has been able to expand his business and even venture in building and construction works for ten years now. He received a loan from Equity Bank.
Like any other businessman, Covid-19 affected his business since tenants were not paying. He has been able to enter into agreements with tenants on how to clear rent arrears advising those who were living in high end lives to live a life that they can afford. He also has agreements with tenants who have financial challenges on when they can pay their rent arrears.
“You do not have to embarrass families locking their houses. We are human and we do not know what will happen tomorrow,” he said.
Njagua says Rongai is among the fastest growing towns and the demand for housing is very high.
The increase in the number of learning institutions has pushed up the demand for housing.
A one bedroom house goes for Shs 10,000, 2 bedroom house goes for Shs 9,000-12,000 while the charges for a three bedroom house ranges between Shs 25,000 to Shs 40,000.
Njagua says that although the business has good returns, there are a lot of challenges like security of tenants.