Why Nairobi’s traffic chaos threatens hospitality industry

Thursday, February 20th, 2020 07:24 |
Kenyatta International Convention Centre hosts most global conferences held in Kenya. Photo/PD/File

Nairobi’s congested transport system threatens growth of city’s hospitality industry with players warning that it is not only lowering productivity but also increasing the cost of doing business.

The World Bank estimates in a past report that the time wasted in traffic jams represents a cost to the economy of Sh50 million in lost productivity daily, which equates to over Sh17 billion a year. Hoteliers are now warning that the future is bleak if orderliness is not restored.

Hospitality industry players are particularly concerned about the poor design of roads which heavily contribute to the menace, pointing at roundabouts in a stretch of less than two kilometres. For instance, Uhuru Highway has four roundabouts between Nyayo Stadium  and University way. 

Often guests experience the frustration of being stuck in traffic jam for hours which can also be tiring for those who have landed for a conference or a business meeting in Nairobi. Vehicles stuck in grinding traffic cause many to miss or get late to their meetings or events that had brought them here. 

PrideInn Group of Hotels Managing Director Hasnain Noraini said the first thing conference organisers think of when it comes to congested roadways is the delay, noting that lateness occasioned by traffic inconveniences visitors.. 

“And at the end of the day, the afternoon rush hour is again a frustrating time because the conference is done and delegates want to go relax or want to visit places of interest within Nairobi yet traffic is preventing them, this contributes to loss of potential revenue from these travellers,” he added. 

Transport system

Lack of scheduled public transport system and an elaborate non-motorised transport network forces people to use personal vehicles over short distances.

The absence of a fully functional performing public transport infrastructure has led to overcrowding and poor delivery in major parts of Nairobi.

The projected number of vehicles in Nairobi alone is likely to be more than 1.35 million by 2030, going by the current rate of registration by the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA).

NTSA registers around 7000 vehicles monthly and 90,000 every year in Nairobi. The growing middle class and easy accessibility of credit has necessitated the move, says NTSA.

Economist Edward Kusewa said Nairobi would have an explicit edge because of centrality and connectivity but visitors and investors in the hospitality space are receiving a raw deal.

“We can have this city being in another league if only the delay menace on the roads is sorted. There are big hotels and high end conferencing facilities but suddenly Addis Ababa and Kigali are grabbing the guests and making money despite being far,” he said.

If compared with other neighbouring countries, Kusewa added, Nairobi should be doing better given its economic strength and availability of technical expertise.                  

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