The six units of Laikipia-made four wheeler tuk tuks, also known as BJ-50, are set to be registered and issued with number plates.
This is after the motor vehicles passed inspection tests and received approval from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), hence allowing their use on the country's public roads.
The cars by Nyahururu-based Sagak Tech Enterprises Ltd have been undergoing tests and inspections by the Chief Mechanical Engineer for the last six months.
“They have been undergoing several tests and they have passed all of them. The mass production of the automobile has entered a critical phase as registration and issuance of number plates is set for this week,” Sagak chief operating officer Wallace Kariuki told Nation.Africa.
A virtual inter-agency meeting co-chaired by the Principal Secretary, State Department for Infrastructure, Prof Paul Maringa and Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi on Wednesday last week heard that the automobile is set to be registered for use on roads.
The meeting was also attended by Kebs oficials, chief mechanical and transport engineers, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), directors of Sagak Tech Enterprises and officers from the Laikipia County Government.
“Local innovators including our own Sagak Tech and other vehicle manufacturers in the country are key beneficiaries of new policies by the Kenya Revenue Authority which will facilitate registration of locally manufactured Automobiles. This is a big breakthrough for BJ-50 as the policies also cover tuk tuks and other vehicle manufacturers like Mobius which have been in the industry for over 9 years,” said Governor Muriithi.
Mr Samuel Njogu, the brains behind the BJ-50 automobile, said that the registration numbers will now enable his company to sell the vehicles to individuals who have expressed interest.
“After they are fully registered and issued with number plates, the six units will immediately be released to the market,” an elated Njogu told Nation.Africa.
“The car, which is powered by a 150cc motorcycle engine to reduce fuel consumption, will sell at Sh450,000,” he added.
Mr Njogu indicated that the cost of making one automobile is Sh300,000 thus the price will help cover other production expenses and make a profit.
The automobiles that had earlier acquired KG number plates have a capacity of 7 passengers including the driver, and a luggage capacity of 800 kg with a maximum speed of 70 km per hour.
KG Plates are short-term dealership garage plates with a special insurance cover for vehicles awaiting number plates or without insurance.
“An ordinary tuk-tuk has a speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour and the BJ-50 is no different from the ordinary tuk tuk, except that it can comfortably carry seven passengers,” he said.
Mr Njogu, who had been working at a small garage in Nyahururu town, got his lucky break when the Laikipia County Government, in partnership with a group of local business people, registered a company to start mass production of the vehicles.
The company that was registered under the name Sagak Technology Automakers has Mr Njogu as the majority shareholder. The firm acquired an endorsement certificate from Kebs before opening a factory.
The standards agency also gave the company the greenlight to start mass production of the vehicles.
In a letter, Kebs managing director Bernard Njiraini said the two units that were inspected by the chief mechanical and transport engineer complied with all the applicable requirements set out in the evaluation criteria.
Some of the areas that Kebs scrutinised include design, proper use of certified spare parts and road testing.