End of an era as Double M buses face auctioneer's hammer

BUSINESS |

End of an era: Double M buses. [Courtesy]

Express Connections Bus Services, the company which owns the famed Double M buses, will go under the hammer.

Yesterday, Philips International Auctioneers advertised for the auction the property owned by the company to recover a bank loan of an undisclosed amount. . The property sits on 1.767 acres.

Express Connections owns the Double M fleet of buses that operate within Nairobi and its environs - managed by Mary Wangari-Mwangi, who took over their management after her husband's death.

Some of the structures erected on the land include two office blocks, a generator, a cafeteria building, a go-down used as a garage, an ablution block and a sentry. There is also the Ola Energy Petrol Station on the land along Jogoo Road.

The company, once hailed for being a trailblazer for safe and decent public transport, rising above the prevalent indiscipline of the 'Manyanga' culture.

The auction is a deadly blow to the transport businesses managed by Mary Wangari-Mwangi, which has in recent times has gone through a rough stretch.

Express Connection MD Mary Mwangi. [Courtesy]

The company was founded by Ms Wangari’s husband, John Mugo Mwangi. Mr Mwangi died in December 2011.

Mary Wangari has vied twice for the Embakasi East parliamentary seat and lost. It is reported that she will be making a third stab next year in a bid to wrestle the seat from the current MP Babu Owino.

The precursor of what came to be known as Michuki Rules was the business that Ms Mwangi and her husband had established. “The “Michuki Rules” probably should have been called the “Mwangi Rules,” read a 2013 study by Meghan Elizabeth Ference of Washington University in St Louis.

Double M’s “Express Connection” was once, one the biggest bus firms, and unlike others that are operated as a franchise through Saccos, it is a family business.

The couple grew their fleet of over 150 matatus by 2010. They started their matatu fabrication firm in 1979and entered the passenger transport business, seven years later.

Unlike its competitors, Express Connections which started its operation on the Buru Buru route played no music, issued tickets for each passenger and only allowed seated passengers.

Double M bus at Kencom terminus. September 20, 2021. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The staff were trained on their specific roles and were required to wear a uniform of blue shirts, black ties and black sweater vests for conductors and purple shirts for drivers.

They also hired many women and young people who had never worked in the sector before and gave their employees a salary that they could count on daily so that they were less tempted to steal and would instead budget their money.

At some point, Mrs Mwangi was locked in a fierce battle with a real estate company which she claimed built her a substandard hotel, having pocketed Sh168 million.

Easy Properties is said to have entered into a deal with Mrs Mwangi through Express Connections in October 2012 to build a four-storey hotel with 80 rooms to serve travellers using Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Mrs Mwangi had borrowed most of the money.

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