“I fancied introducing prestige services where seating arrangement will be akin to tours and travel cabs,” Kariuki says.
So in 2004, Molo Line rolled out its prestige shuttle. To avoid competition from 14-seaters as witnessed earlier, they set up offices at highway towers along Nakuru-Nairobi highway in Nakuru town away from the bus park. “In the first months of operation it was harder to get passengers as people saw it as overpriced. This move was not an easy one as passengers trickled in slowly,” Kariuki avers.
But today, the service is one of their hottest selling items.
The journey of Molo Line has been exceptional. But it has not been without mishaps. For example, in 2008, the firm underwent challenging timers after they lost most of their new buses following the flawed 2007 elections.
“We had ventured into bus services in 2006 following the directive by Government to phase out 14-seater. In 2007 elections we won a tender to transport ballot boxes. Our buses were burnt down in suspicion of involvement in rigging,” Kariuki says.
“We later terminated the services and allowed members to withdraw their buses.”
Even then, Kariuki still belives that the sector is good for the economy.
“I have fought for the 14-seater not because we are in that business, but because matatu industry is a micro-enterprise which employs a lot of people. The government should let the business evolve and a time will come when 14-seater will be phased out due to competition,” Kariuki concludes.