Transforming driving in Botswana one lesson at a time
In January 2017, five young visionaries joined forces in a revolutionary move that changed Francistown’s driving school landscape forever.
Previously, Thabo Matshabane, Mokwadinyana Stimela, Tumisang Mambi, Bagaata Monare and Johnny Seloi had been running semi-successful institutes of their own.
Realising they were stronger together, the five qualified driving instructors teamed up to form Two Kings. It was their green light to greater things.
With their combined expertise and shared passion for the job, the business partners are proving an unstoppable force, teaching thousands how to drive in the last seven years.
Originally, Two Kings started with two sites (hence the name ‘Two Kings’), in Colored, across the road from Sunshine Plaza, and in Donga, near the BDF camp.
Within a year they added a third centre, stretching their empire beyond the second city to establish a base in Tati-Siding.
Having set-up shop with just three cars, the school has since increased its fleet to seven to cater for the growing demand.
Operating from Monday to Friday, Two Kings charge P600 a month – a fee regulated by the Francistown Driving School Association – with clients receiving five lessons a week throughout the month.
Making time in his busy schedule to speak to Voice Money, Matshabane estimates they average about 60 learners every month and boast a pass rate verging on 90 percent.
“Our aim is to transform the driving system in the country. We want to produce quality drivers, to equip Batswana with good driving skills, which in turn will reduce the number of accidents and deaths on our roads. We want driving to be common amongst the people,” stresses Matshabane, who also serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The 44-year-old Kgalagadi native, who along with Stimela, 42, is a BQA accredited Moderator, says three months is normally ample time for the team to have a learner test-ready.
“We are committed professionals and have all been doing this for a long time. With Two Kings you are assured of quality, fully-qualified instructors, who are friendly and communicate well with customers. We also pride ourselves on being reliable; if you book with us, come rain or shine they’ll always be an instructor on site to ensure you receive your lesson,” guarantees Matshabane, who has been teaching people how to drive since 2010.
“We are flexible too and although our regular working hours are 8am to 6pm, we are willing to extend to accommodate customers working late.”
While most of their students fall in the youth bracket, Matshabane maintains it’s never too late to start.
“I once taught a 66-year-old lady who had never driven before. She got her licence in three months!”
As well as the practical side of driving, Two Kings place much emphasis on theory, holding daily, hour-long lessons at their Donga classroom, which sits ten.
“We charge P100 a month for this. In Botswana people take theory lightly, believing it is just about road signs, but it is so much more detailed than this. It covers the whole system of driving, including car check-ups, everything about the car, its components, as well as safety, breaking distance in relation to speed etc. One of the reasons we have so many road accidents in Botswana is because people are ignorant when it comes to theory; it’s so important!” exclaims 34-year-old Mambi.
In fact, the Department of Road Transport and Safety (DRTS) regulations state for a learner to be considered fit to sit their test, they require 420 ‘learning hours’, broken down into 230 hours behind the wheel and 190 hours of theory.
Currently on suspension, the Two Kings team are keen for such regulations to be enforced.
“It will save lives,” states Mambi, who like his colleagues is qualified to teach all classes of driving, including busses, trucks and off-road.
Although business is non-stop, there are a number of obstacles putting the brakes on Two Kings’ progress.
“We are seen as a small-scale business by the banks, making it very difficult to secure a loan. They should recognize us as a viable business, because that’s what we are!” declares Seloi, 35.
Other humps stalling the road to success include access to land and insurance companies’ reluctance to provide cover.
“We only have personal insurance, our fleet is not covered at all. You can imagine these cars are being driven by beginners so are liable to bumps and scrapes. Without insurance, maintaining our vehicles is a costly business,” laments Seloi.
Calling on the Department of Lands to allocate them plots, the driven teacher adds that lack of space and security is a problem.
“As it stands, you just see a vacant stretch of land and occupy it. We could be removed at anytime, that’s why our structures are temporary,” says Seloi, gesturing towards the brightly decorated pre-fabricated room where they hold theory lessons in Donga.
Despite these challenges, Two Kings have royal ambitions for the future.
“We want to be go countrywide and be seen outside Francistown, that’s the plan,” mentions 35-year-old Monare.
Their firepower is also set to increase to seven instructors, having just trained up two youth, who are currently in Gaborone taking their instructor’s test.
“To become an instructor, one must be aged 25 or over with no criminal record, have a valid licence that shows they’ve been driving for more than two years and finally have hands-on experience and a reference from a recognized driving school, like Two Kings,” reveals Monare.
For those interested in booking lessons, Two Kings can be contacted on 7788038 or 77003827.