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Kayole youths cash in on car body works

By NAIROBI NEWS January 22nd, 2014 2 min read

Kayole area in Eastlands has one of the largest pool of semi-skilled labour in the county. And young men there are increasingly opting to open garages and making a killing while at it.

Many mechanics have opened garages that build bus bodies on chassis, seats and do finishing such as windows, painting, lighting and body kits.

At Damco Garage on Spine Road, the owners make hundreds of thousands of shillings in a month, mainly from building bus bodies and connecting truck cabins with chassis.

Detailed process

One of the mechanics who requested not to be named, said their work entails building bodies for matatus from local saccos including Forward Travellers, Pin Point, Mwamba and Metro.

“The process is very detailed. We use fillers on dents, repaint and if the clients want body-art, the charges are higher. It depends on the size of the matatu and the number of seats,” said the mechanic.

The  clients book for a full matatu. Upon completion, it will be fitted to the chassis with seats, and windows. The painting is done according to a client’s taste.

This process takes three months and costs  Sh1.2 million for 10 to 12 workers to complete the job.

Aside from building bodies for chassis, Damco also works separately on painting new and old vehicles.

Brighton Kinyanjui, an artist at the garage is among those reaping big from designing paint and art jobs on matatus that operate on the Kayole-Komarock-CBD route.

“Since the government banned art work on vehicles, most of our clients pick out elaborate logos that would cover the entire vehicle, and not just a small part,” said Kinyanjui.

Body-art work for a 49-seater matatu can cost up to Sh80,000. For a new body, this will include preparing the body before doing artwork either using stickers or paint.

“Doing artwork using paint is more expensive because we use a compressor and a paint gun so we factor in costs of maintaining the machine. But stickers are cheaper because a client picks out a design and I draw it out on a sticker before applying it on the body,” he added.

For the service, a 14-seater matatu can be worked on for Sh33,000 and any vehicle undergoing this process takes a minimum of three days for the mask and clear paint to dry completely .

Opening this business is not costly as their main tools in body artwork including a compressor and paint gun at a cost of Sh60,000 and 4,000 respectively.

They also buy fillers for Sh3,000 per gallon and hardeners for Sh2,000 on a monthly basis. With such a small capital of about Sh70,000 and so great a profit margin, Kayole residents with innovative skills and those with unskilled labour are making their lives better.

Damco Garage works on up to four bodies a month and also repairs engines when their work load reduces.

They also work on finishing including fitting lights, reflectors, spoilers and interior design for an additional Sh20,000.