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Parking boys outsmart NMS, return to CBD in full swing

Parking boys have made a return to the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) in their droves after a failed attempt by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to drive them out.

The group is once again ruling the roost within the city centre, turning many streets into their stomping grounds.

Despite a crackdown by the Major-General Mohammed Badi-led administration last month, the parking boys have returned and are going about their business as if they are above the law.

From directing private motorists on where to park, collecting money from the same motorists for “offering” them parking space, to terrorising those who resist their advances, the parking boys seem to be a law unto themselves.

Late last month, NMS, led by the Director of Enforcement Dr Mark Leruk, carried out a sting operation on the notorious parking boys for two days.

Despite Dr Leruk’s tough-talking that the crackdown would continue until all parking boys were cleared from the streets, the tough stance amounted to nothing.

That was on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. Come Monday, the parking boys returned to the streets like they had just gone on vacation.

“That is a security issue that needs talking face-to-face. However, the crackdown will continue until we are done with the parking boys,” said Dr Leruk on October 31, 2020, when this writer tried to ask about the return of the parking boys.

Further attempts to get Dr Leruk to respond to the issue have been futile with the enforcement director neither picking up calls nor responding to text messages.

Security concern

The parking boys menace has been a growing concern in the capital city because of the insecurity posed by the group to Nairobi residents as they are not only involved in extortion but also theft.

Nairobi Central MCA Daniel Ngengi, in September, raised the issue before Nairobi County Assembly, imploring NMS and City Hall to rein in the ever-growing numbers. He said the group had turned into a syndicate operating at will in the city centre, vandalising private vehicles as well as causing gross disorderliness in the CBD.

Mr Ngengi said the parking boys were going on about their business as if they are engaged in a full-time job where they report at 9am and leave for home at 5pm.

“Nairobi CBD has become quite a hazardous place for people going about their businesses,” lamented Mr Ngengi.

He said the parking boys have turned several parking spaces in the city centre into their territories where they extort money from private motorists. Those who do not give in to their demands by parting with Sh100 or more have their vehicles vandalised.

“You park your car and, if you do not part with Sh100, you will find your car vandalised,” he said.

The hotspots are the stretch of Banda Street from Kimathi Street to Muindi Mbingu; Muindi Mbingu Street, especially around Jeevanjee Gardens; Kenyatta Avenue, more specifically the Stanbic Bank stretch; in front of and behind Nation Centre, Kenya Cinema and along Moi Avenue stretching from the former Karrymatt Supermarket to the former Nakumatt Supermarket, now Naivas Supermarket.

So lucrative is the practice that some on average make Sh36,000 untaxed money every month just for beckoning and guiding motorists to parking spaces.

The county by-laws outlaw “signalling, guiding or directing a driver of a vehicle into or out of a parking place”.