Motoring Moment: Bentley, Roundabouts, Crime

an occasional post about cars in Nairobi

The Boys are Back: (and some girls too) The TV nightly news have run a series of stories highlighting the re-emergence of crime in Nairobi targeted at vehicles, and not just when they are parked in unsafe spots. Thieves also wade through slow-moving traffic jams in the daytime looking to snatch handbags, cell phones from unaware motorist, or even pry loose indicator lights (which can cost Kshs. 5,000 or ~$65), external mirrors, hubcaps, or anything that meets their fancy and may fetch a price elsewhere. Because of the abundant re-sale market for car parts, Toyota and Nissan are the main vehicles targets, for indicator lights, but of late I’m also Mitsubishi’s, Subaru’s, and even a Mercedes looking like they’ve been to a motor dentist

picture taken during a replacement, not a theft

some advice
– keep windows reasonably up though its hot
– don’t have valuables in sight
– leave reasonable space between car in front (don’t tailgate)
– be aware (don’t talk on the phone in traffic)

There are also other variations in crime , including people jumping on to slow moving cars to feign being hit (and later extort drivers claiming medical expense or quick cash settlements) or even crazier crime stories like this AK47 & technical that seems to be straight out of a Mogadishu playbook.

2009 Motorshow Total (Oil) Kenya have announced that the annual Nairobi motor show will be held at the end of August 2009. (some pictures from a past show (2007)). Great, now how about Nairobi also getting back the popular Air Show that stopped about three years ago?

Strange Cars: Robert Nagila, an NTV Reporter, went and dug out an old Rolls Royce (youtube video here) owned by the City Council of Nairobi , while eagle eyed @karuoro spotted a Bentley GT (twitpic) at the Village Market over the weekend.

Round about solution: Roundabouts are not popular with many Nairobians who believe they contribute to traffic jams. I, for one, believe they are a better option for Nairobi’s inconsiderate and careless drivers. Slate magazine has an article on story on roundabouts expalining why American should build more roundabout as they are safer than intersections. They are also more applicable to Nairobi since proposals to have huge freeways & fly-overs as envisioned in Vision 2030 drawings are far fetched as there is too little land available around the built-up and clogged Nairobi roads.

Garage Sale: The Government of Kenya has proposed a cutback in ministerial Mercedes and limousines, but Mars Group Kenya are not impressed by the proposed cost-cutting & tax raising sale measures.

12 thoughts on “Motoring Moment: Bentley, Roundabouts, Crime

  1. coldtusker

    Mon ami, you are mistaken about roundabouts:

    1) The ‘modern’ roundabout in the article is different from what we have in Nairobi.

    2) COURTESY. American drivers are far, far, far more courteous… Matatus run red lights. Heck, they even force others to run red lights (tailgating).

    3) The land question is faced by any city proposing flyovers. eminent domain & other creativity needed. Also many of these will help divert traffic from clogging city streets.

    4) The cost of the flyovers will be repaid over 40yrs. Looking at current costs ONLY is ignoring the future.

  2. Anonymous

    Agree with you coldtusker on the flyover, that is how many of the highways in major U.S. cities were built (e.g. New York, Long Island Expressway). Kenya just needs flyovers, especially Nairobi, or it will choke on the traffic. The traffic is not that much compared to other cities (New York, Bangkok, etc), and yet there are traffic jams. If Uganda’s economy takes off, then Nairobi could become a choke point.

    The courteous drivers… hmm.. again then exclude New York, tailgating is considered polite, it is more likely you will get a rolled down window and cursing, and screaming. Seen this at midday, Lower Manhattan, close to the infamous/famous bull right by Wall Street. Think it is a factor of congestion, large city that brings out the rudeness.

  3. bankelele

    Coldtusker & anon: modern round-about cn be foudn in which city? the US ones I know are like globe cinema roundabout (except they don’t have matatu terminus in the center)
    – it’s not just about courtesy, but also enforecment; in US a 4-way intersection (small ahve stop signs, large have traffic lights) are cleared on 1st come basis, but the penalty if you run them can be severe.
    – as for big expansion projects, accept that Nairobi is built-up & done and move on; pour the big money on highway to ethiopia and sudan

  4. propaganda

    American statistics on side-impact crashes at intersections are the best argument for roundabouts, which have a ‘calming’ effect by slowing down traffic. In Nairobi, we have been calmed to a standstill! There will be flyovers, just not as many as people think.

    On corner lights: After malicious watchies took my Sh4,500 Made in Japan lights, I replaced them with Sh1,200 Made in Taiwan replicas. You can barely tell the difference and nobody bothers to steal those ones!

  5. coldtusker

    4-way intersections & red lights: There is an element of courtesy in the US… not 100% effective but works. Also its less about enforcement than courtesy.

    In Nairobi, matatus run red lights EVEN when cops are there. They even disobey traffic cops! Museum roundabout is notorious for this…

    Tailgating: I meant that if I do not run the red light… the matatu will hit me in the rear… the matatu does NOT expect me to stop at a red light (or stop sign) just coz he does not…

  6. coldtusker

    The ‘modern’ roundabout is mentioned in the article you posted.

    I have never seen one… or have no idea if there was one… The UK has these small roundabouts… are these the modern ones?

  7. chegepreneur

    I think the River road/Grogan/Industrial area Second hand automotive spare parts business is responsible for the theft of Motorvehicles spareparts in Nairobi. It is that which makes the theft to thrive because stolen spareparts are sold to stake holders of this businesses which in turn are then sold to motorists which in turn are then stolen again. Who else thinks so?

    Home boyz also organized a motorshow whereby posh customised vehicles were on show. I dont know what happened to it.

  8. propaganda

    @Chegepreneur: You’re right about the River Road scam. What I have never understood is why some idiot would buy a used light with my car’s ident scratched off when a brand new replica costs so little. It’s people who don’t know where to get cheap replacements that keep the theft of originals going by buying stolen merchandise.

    The again, maybe the replica guys are behind the thefts…

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  10. kenyantykoon

    its a damn shame that pple have to lose sleep over cars they slaved over for a long time to buy. i think pple should sell those money blackholes and take the bus to work in the mornings. its a little inconvenient but in the long run saves you a tonne of cash.

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