CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT

Five common features on Nairobi streets

Unroadworthy Kanjo vans, beggars, seated Kenyans, nail boys and matatu touts.

In Summary
  • The vans are often spotted along Tom Mboya street, Ronald Ngala and River Road.
  • One would be forgiven for thinking touts are in every nook and cranny of the CBD.  They seem to be everywhere one turns.
Matatus parked along Accra Road in Nairobi. PSVs have been directed to comply with traffic rules by November 12. /FILE
Matatus parked along Accra Road in Nairobi. PSVs have been directed to comply with traffic rules by November 12. /FILE

Unroadworthy Kanjo vans

Driven slowly around the CBD, these white vans with the Nairobi City Council logo on the doors are made to look like mobile prisons, with their grilled windows and doors.

The vans are often spotted along Tom Mboya street, Ronald Ngala and River Road.

 

They are always driven by old men without uniform and are used to ferry lawbreakers, especially hawkers and boda boda operators.

Some of the vans are old and unroadworthy, with city dwellers suggesting they should be sold as scrap metal.

Seated Kenyans

It is common to spot people seated on the concrete or metal public seats either taking a break from their errands, waiting for someone or just relaxing.

The most favoured areas are the large semi-circular concrete seat adjacent to Hilton Hotel opposite Kencom and the raised wall just across the road near the National Archives.

Beggars

One is likely to come across a beggar every few metres on the streets of Nairobi.  Some are on wheelchairs while others lie or seat on the ground.

 

Some have disabilities while others are women surrounded by little children who run after passersby asking for money. 

Some have manilla papers explaining the condition they suffer from and the money needed for treatment, with a few coins sprinkled on the paper. 

'Nail boys'

These are young men stationed outside buildings inviting women into nail parlours.

They are a quite recent feature and can be seen holding templates with artificial nails painted in various nail polish colours and decorations.

Some have been known to grab women's hands in a bid to attract their attention. 

Matatu touts

One would be forgiven for thinking these people are in every nook and cranny of the CBD.  They seem to be everywhere one turns.

They are usually found next to matatu stages calling out to passengers by announcing the vehicles' routes and fares. 

Often there's more than one of them calling people to get into one vehicle. That is beside the vehicle conductor. 

Along Tom Mboya Street just after Tuskys Imara Supermarket, one will hear chants of "30 bob, 30 bob Westlands, Safaricom, Kangemi. Across the road one will hear 'Thindigwa, Kiambu town ndani', to name but a few. 

Everywhere!

Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya