Car check: Secure Drive

Nairobi, Kenya


BACKGROUND: Secure Drive is a global security chauffeur service orientated towards clientele who require secure transfers or chauffeur services. It is ideal for clients whose risk profiles may not justify protective details or agents, but who are nonetheless exposed to potential travel-related risks, or who may be travelling in unfamiliar countries or cities. While Secure Drive services can be tailored to meet the specific needs and requirements of its clients, it is typically used for point-to-point transfers and full or half-day assignments. As with the protective services offered by the Arcfyre Group, Secure Drive personnel are subject to a rigorous recruitment process and receive intensive training in defensive driving, hi-jack prevention, first aid and security skills. Secure Drive has a presence in 26 African countries.

BOOKING: After I’d sent through the details of my flight from Jo’burg to Nairobi, a few days’ later I was emailed a ‘trip brief’, which was a pdf with the following: a picture of my driver; the names, designations and mobile numbers of the Secure Drive manager, journey facilitator and driver; details on the vehicle; my flight details; information on Nairobi’s weather and plug points; a request to ensure I obtained travel insurance; and emergency contact details for a Nairobi hospital, the airport, police, Arcfyre’s 24-hour global security operations centre, and my hotel. I was also urged to download the ArcWatch app, which allows clients and staff to activate the ‘Help Me’ and ‘Check-In’ services, which immediately notify Secure Drive’s 24/7 Security Research & Communicate Centre of your location, as well as the support required.

ARRIVAL: When I turned my phone on after landing in Nairobi, I had a text message from my driver, communicating that he would be outside the arrivals terminal with a sign that said ‘Secure Drive’. He was easy to find once I exited the terminal and greeted me with a friendly smile and a handshake. He insisted on taking my bag from me and we walked to the car in the parking garage. On our way there, Peter, my driver, informed me that due to my arrival being in the middle of rush hour, he had researched two potential routes and would be taking the one he felt would be less congested. Once we reached the car, he deposited my bag in the boot, handed me a chilled bottle of still water he grabbed from a cooler box, and I settled into my seat. Peter then asked me to put my seatbelt on, handed me the Secure Drive safety brief pamphlet, and asked me if I needed to use the wi-fi, before giving me the password details.

THE CAR: The car was a 2015 Toyota Fortuner SUV that could seat three passengers comfortably, and four at a push. Additional soft drinks were placed in the holders near my feet, whilst on the seat next to me were two local newspapers, a box of mints and hand wipes. I quickly connected to the wi-fi, as I had important emails to download, and was impressed that the service was seamless and reliable, not dropping once throughout the over an hour-long trip.

THE TRIP: As Peter had warned me, we hit heavy traffic, but he remained calm, keeping me informed of how we were progressing, in terms of projected arrival time at the hotel. He also didn’t blink when I changed my destination, as I was running late for a dinner. From Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the Hilton Nairobi it took us about an hour and 15 minutes, which, by all accounts, wasn’t bad for rush hour. Peter offered to wait for my dinner to wrap up, before taking me to my hotel, but I declined, opting instead to use a taxi later. I actually ended up using Peter’s service throughout my three-day trip, which required constant communication via WhatsApp with regards departure and pick-up times. Peter was always available and friendly, and only once was caught out by traffic when picking me up from a conference. My return trip to the airport required an early departure, but Peter was once again bang on time, sending me a reminder message on his arrival.

VERDICT: This service was clearly a notch above your standard point-to-point or traditional hotel transfer service, so if you’re looking for something like this – particularly if you’re in an African country you haven’t visited before or want that comfort of something a bit more ‘secure’ – I wouldn’t hesitate to use Secure Drive.