Hilton & Intercontinental closure have been making news for quite sometime and I would like to comment as follows.
- A hotel key USP is always about Location. Location & Location . In the past CBD was the heart and soul of the city and with time it got crowded and traffic gridlock did not help matters . Instead of dealing with that problem, we find it easier to run away from it .
- Ownership of these properties. Goverment owns 41% and 33% of Intercontinental and Hilton respectively. Rest is private owners including Hilton International. Ownership and renovations go hand in hand . The current owners have earned serious dividends in the past many years without ploughing back the earnings. On the side hand look at Sarova Stanley who have always been revamping their property.
The fate of Nairobi CBD hotels is very similar to what befell two major hotels in the heart of Jonnesburg. The 600 room Carlton Hotel and the twin tower of Johannesburg Sun hotel. When ANC took over sadly the CBD of Joburg was left to rot and the so called affluent decided to shift further up to Sandton very similar to what our lazy leadership have been doing for the past 15 years.
Surely how do you abandon your historic CBD because you cannot bring back sanity?
CBD hotels and buildings in London, New York or Berlin fetch alot of money and many are listed as national monuments.
I am afraid it all boils down to leadership and there is something fundamentally wrong with African leadership I dare say black leadership be it Kenya or South Africa. We must prove to ourselves that we can get our ducks in a row only then shall we earn respect from others.
Way forward .
A. I challenge the new county goverment of Nairobi to bring back sanity into the heart of CBD. Who said hustlers don’t deserve a working city ? We have always had hustlers time immemorial. Pretending to run away from the holloi poloi won’t help.
Our national assembly, office of the president, Judiciary , our only international convention centre et al all sit in the heart of the CBD. How far can the well off pretend to run away well Nairobi Serena and even state house is not that far away anyway from Tom Mboya street or even Uhuru Highway.
B . National goverment must support the county goverment to bring back law and order into the heart of the city. Choosing to run way won’t help.
C. Redesign Nairobi Expressway to support the CBD. The fact they bypassed the CBD speaks volumes. Once that happens which is easy to do means acess to CBD will not be a problem.
C. Urgently get a PPP and get an investor to come and invest in KICC. Kenyas premier meeting venue . The building is still intact , firm and enough land. Get the title deed from whichever thief is holding it. It can be redesigned with success.
D. GOK must offload its share in both Hilton and Intercontinental. Anyone suggesting we convert them into trading stalls is high on some bad stuff.
Good people we cannot abandon the heart of the city just because River Road anarchy is getting closer , it’s upto the leadership to bring back law and order .
Late John Gakuo ( God bless his soul) brought back sanity to Nairobi with water fountains where Nairobians could quench their thirst and nice benches where city dwellers could rest in their quest to earn a living .
I challenge both private sector and government to stop taking the easy route to abandon the CBD. You all travel and enjoy walking in London or Berlin or New Yorks CBD. Our President on his first visit to New York walked the New York streets. Men and women made it happen. I challenge our leadership you all went to some fine ivy league universities please let that knowledge count for something.
To Nbi county I am ready to serve on such a taskforce without any pay.
We must save the heart of Nairobi, if you don’t then the chaos and anarchy will reach every corner. Even the hustlers want orderly city. We either help them get their lives in order or they will make our life’s disorderly. The choice is ours.
As aways I choose to remain an optimist
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