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Hotel business hurt as night travel ban bites

A popular hotel on Lagos Road where travellers used to refresh is a shell of its former self, three months after the ban on night travel.

Fresh and Friendly Restaurant, formally known as Antonia, used to operate 24 hours and business was booming, especially at night.

Before the ban on unlicensed night travel, restaurant manager Catherine Kananu said the business was doing well.

“A lot of our clients used to stream in at night from the long journeys, yearning for a refreshing bath and meals,” said Ms Kananu.

She said the restaurant would get up to 150 clients a day and they would charge Sh100 for a hot bath, while a cold one cost Sh50.

All that is history now, Ms Kananu said, explaining that the hotel only operated during the day, and barely got any clients requiring a bath.

“Aside from sending home our night shift team, we reduced our number of seats from 72 to 48 and the tables from 19 to 10 since business has plummeted,” she said.

Lack of customers

The restaurant has closed a snacks outlet at the Crown Bus lounge, where it used to supply snacks to travellers as they waited for their departure time.

Another hotel, Superchef, just a few metres away is also considering ending their night operations for lack of customers. 

Hotel manager Daniel Wambua said: “We already reduced our staff from 20 to 15 but our operating costs are still too high. So we plan to end the night shift since we are getting few clients, following the night travel ban.” 

Other businesses operating around such bus terminals, including retail shops, taxis and miraa traders said they may soon go out of business.

The initial ban on night travel came into effect on December 17 last year with Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau prohibiting operations between 6pm and 6am.

However, the operation hours ware extended to 9pm at the beginning of this year and to date, no bus company has successfully applied for the night travel licence.

Other hotels and restaurants at pick up and dropping zones for long distance buses said business is threatened.

Msafiri Hotel along Accra Road retrenched 10 of its 40 employees following the night travel ban.

“Our sales have dropped by 30 percent, thus we have reduced our suppliers and staff,” said Charles Njuguna, the food and beverage controller at the hotel.

Dream Hotel along Doroma Road shares the sentiments, saying customer numbers have significantly declined after the ban. The hotel which also offers lodging, says bed occupancy has gone done, especially during the day.

Hotel manager Maurice Ochieng said: “Before, we used to receive guests in the morning and evening but since the ban, no one books accommodation during the day.” 

Nyama Choma Zone, situated next to the Easy Coach booking, is also considering ending night operations.