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Eastleigh gears up for 24-hour trading

In little under a decade, Eastleigh has shed off the image of a town of stunted growth to become one of Nairobi’s top investment destinations.

Its status as Nairobi’s commercial hub has ushered in real estate construction boom that has seen new highrise buildings redefine its skyline.

Some of the striking buildings include the Nomad Hotel, the 10-storey Grand Royal Hotel, five-storey Barakat Hotel, DD Plaza, Amal Plaza, Madina Mall and the Open Plaza.

Big commercial banks such as Barclays Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank and Equity have also set up shop in the area.

According to Hussein Arr, the Eastleigh Business Community Vice Chairman, the investments directly employ at least 200,000 people and indirectly provide business to 50,000 taxi operators.

He estimates that 100,000 house helps have also benefited from the accompanying demand for residential houses for workers.

The vice chairman is optimistic Eastleigh is yet to reach its full potential. He has such lofty dreams as operating a 24-hour economy, an idea that has failed to successfully take off in Nairobi’s Central Business District.

“Construction of the roads should be fast tracked because we want to introduce a 24-hour economy,” he says the Vice Chairman during an interview.

Arr notes that the completion of the ongoing roads construction will be a step closer to realising the 24-hour economy idea. He says the idea has the backing of the entire committee.

“It could take only six months to completely change the face of Eastleigh on completion,” he enthusiastically adds.

 

According to the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) website, the construction is in line with the Vision 2030 blue print which envisions Eastleigh as a commercial hub in the East African region.

And just like envisioned, the work has already spurred economic activity as the construction boom attests.

Extorting money

However, investment in the area has not been without challenges.

The toughest of them has been the increased insecurity from local gangs robbing and extorting money from both residents and traders. The Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab group is also suspected to have sympathisers in the area.

Arr, however, says the county government has promised to urgently address the security menace.

“Governor Evans Kidero promised to erect surveillance system to enhance security because it is not possible to have a 24-hour economy without sufficient security,” he points out.

The slow pace at which the General Waruinge Road as well as the First Avenue roads are being constructed has also been cited as a challenge that is leading to loss of money by traders.

Particularly, Arr complains the work on the First Avenue has forced customers to keep off the famous Garissa Lodge owing to the muddy and at times dusty road.

The work was scheduled for completion by August, but Arr says Kura has indicated that the work will have to continue until December.