The new-look Nairobi
Nairobi central business district (CBD) has been synonymous with congestion, entertainment spots, garbage, parking boys, and dilapidated roads.
However, a wind of fresh air is steadily sweeping across the city centre heralding a transformation that has seen the CBD welcome a new face.
Most of the night clubs are gone, a non-motorized transport (NMT) has been implemented, roads have been re-carpeted, garbage issue dealt with and parking boys’ numbers controlled.
Kenyatta Avenue, Wabera and Muindi Mbingu Streets have been transformed into NMT corridors with pedestrian and cycle paths constructed in the three streets by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).
The development is aimed at providing safe walking and cycling space for Nairobi residents who would want to walk or cycle in and out of the central business district (CBD).
“The project is aimed at improving walking spaces and encouraging city residents to start using bicycles since this mode of transport is safe, efficient and economical,” said NMS Transport, Roads and Public Works director Engineer Michael Ochieng.
This has seen most of the on-street parking slots that had dotted the streets replaced with cabros to create pedestrian and cycling lanes.
The Major General Mohammed Badi-led NMS has also re-carpeted different roads in the city centre including City Hall way, Moi Avenue, Wabera Street with Grogon and Kirinyaga Roads also nearing completion.
The Nairobi Central Station has also undergone major facelift with the central station renovated and designated boarding points set up for various trains to facilitate the safe movement of passengers within the station.
An NMT corridor is also being constructed from the station to link it to Moi Avenue as part of Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Master Plan aimed at integrating rail transport with other modes of transport road and air transport.
Across the road along Haile Selassie Avenue is Extelcoms House which stands out for its fresh and innovative paintwork.
The government entity, which took over four-county functions of transport, public works, utilities, and ancillary services, health services, and county planning and development in March, has also launched a crackdown on parking boys who have been a nightmare to motorists within the CBD.
The white, yellow and green City Hall officers have been replaced with NMS enforcement officers taking over enforcement of security services in the city adorning navy blue uniforms.
In the arena of night clubs, most have been driven out of the city centre with eateries taking over their spots.
Kimathi Street used to play host to different clubs but that is now in the past with now restaurants dotting the street.
Alfajr Jamia and Kilimanjaro Jamia have set up shop on Kimathi Street the same as Artcaffé Coffee & Bakery and Java House’s new brand, Kukito, Al-Yusra offering Somali and Swahili cuisines.
Mojos and Tribeka Lounge and its swanky VIP section, Beka Lounge, have closed with the latter’s spot taken over by Safaricom, Beirut and Kilimanjaro Jamia Restaurant have opened their doors along Banda Street.
Clubs like Gravity, Riviera, Tacos, Seasons, Hunters, Polos, Ibiza, Wallet, Hornbill, Heartz, Verandah, Zeep, Betty’s, Psys, Zigzag, Porter House, Wine Bar and Steps, Mad House and Simmers are some entertainment spots which have left the city centre over the years.
Gravity gave way to Café Pronto, and I-Club, which had rebranded from Tacos, became Pepino’s Pizza. Other restaurants dotting the expansive CBD are Hamdi Restaurant, Berlin, Faraja Fariji Catering Kenya, Moodys, Kulan and CJ’s Restaurant.
Café Deli has also opened a new branch along Koinange Street.
Café deli owner Obadoh Obadoh explains that restaurants are taking over from bars and clubs as the bar culture is short lived and the trend started in 2, 000 when people’s preference’s changed from pure clubbing to a mixture of food and merry making.
“People will always eat but the bar culture is very short-lived as people tend to want the newest kid on the block. So every time a new bar opens up, the revelers run to it. So this makes it hard for them to survive for long,” he points out.
Restaurants are also driving them away by incorporating a bit of the bar services in their operations like they have food, liquour and music.
“I had said I would never sell alcohol and for very long time I stuck to that. But that changed when the business was doing badly and one of my managers convinced me otherwise when a survey of customers showed that 80 percent wanted liquour to be around so that they are not inconvenienced having to look elsewhere for the service.”