Why city hotel was allowed to seal off Watalii Lane – VIDEO
Watalii Lane is a not-so prominent lane in Nairobi. However, the lane that straddles Hilton Hotel plays a key role to the five-star international hotel.
The lane, though a public road, is out of bounds for Tom, Dick and Harry. It is only used by select few.
This is after Kenya suffered a series of terrorist attacks around 2013 necessitating different installations in the capital city to take necessary precautions.
It is for this reason that Hilton Hotel’s management applied to the Nairobi County government for permission to control usage of the lane, a request which was granted by City Hall.
Granted permission, Watalii Lane became a restricted road used only by VIPs, the hotel’s customers and few others who must prove why they want to use the lane.
“The barriers across the lane was put before Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) came in. It was when there were series of terrorist attacks in the country and five-star hotels in the city became key strategic targets because of being frequented by foreigners, especially whites,” said NMS Transport, Roads and Public Works Director Engineer Michael Ochieng.
He said the application by the hotel to have the traffic movement along the lane restricted was granted on security grounds since the lane was rarely used by public service vehicles.
Mr Ochieng explained that since the lane passes so close to the hotel, it offers easy and close access to the hotel increasing its vulnerability to attacks if movements are not controlled.
As a result, the hotel has been allowed to erect barriers to control movements along it to the extent that only those with business in the hotel access it.
“The lane is not part of Hilton Hotel but they have been allowed to control it since the road accesses the hotel and nothing else. Passing close to that hotel makes occupants vulnerable to any attack. And when a terrorist attack happens, it will affect everyone even those not in the hotel,” he said.
He said the barriers have not inconvenienced motorists in the city as there are alternative routes if in any case, one wanted to use the lane.
“If you want to use that lane then you are most probably hotel user but if you want to run away from traffic there is an alternative route which is by going around the hotel,” he added.