Nairobi plans seven-storey automated parking facility


An artist’s impression of the planned multi-storied car park that will be built at the Sunken Car Park land adjacent to the Aga Khan Walk and Harambee Avenue in Nairobi. It will accommodate up to 3,000 cars.

City Hall has advertised for tenders to construct a Sh4 billion multi-storied car park that will add 3,000 parking spaces in the central business district.

The building, which will also have commercial and office space, will be situated on the Sunken Car Park land adjacent to the Aga Khan Walk and Harambee Avenue.

County Executive for Land, Housing and Physical Planning Tom Odongo said the initial design would be a 17-storey structure, which could go up to 30 floors depending on projected investors’ returns.

“So far, what we want is a seven-storey podium which is predominantly a car park. Then we have a tower which is mixed use. This will have offices, restaurants and recreational facilities,” Mr Odongo said. He added that the development would be a public private partnership (PPP) with the county providing the land while investors put up capital.

The investors would build, operate and transfer the structure to the county within agreed timelines, but the period would not exceed 30 years.

Parking will be charged based on the amount of time spent rather than the current system where motorists pay a flat daily fee of Sh300. This will provide relief to those who come to the CBD for shorter periods.

“You must have a model of charging that can allow both short-term and long-term parking. Short-term is traffic that is just coming in to do either shopping or something in town and get out,” said Mr Odongo.

He said the project was part of efforts to get rid of street parking bays on busy roads to create an extra lane for large capacity buses.

There are plans to introduce a bus rapid transit (BRT) system in the city centre once nine BRT corridors are completed. City Hall intends to introduce buses that can accommodate a large numbers of commuters.

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Mr Odongo also added that several streets would be remodelled into pedestrian walkways to improve accessibility to businesses.

But Nairobi City County Business District Association chairman David Gachuru said City Hall should concentrate on removing cars from the city streets and not building more parking spaces.

“There are very few open spaces in the CBD and that space should be left so. By building a concrete structure, they are telling me to come with my vehicle to the city. This is contrary to the earlier plan that talked of decongesting the city,” he said.

“For me, these car parks should be in areas like Mombasa Road, Kawangware, Lang’ata and Thika Road. I drive to those areas and travel by bus or train.”

In the financing model proposed by the county, all accruing income would ideally go to the investor before the transfer, but Mr Odongo said they were looking at structuring the deal in a way that they would still receive income during the period the investor was in charge of the facility.

“You can structure the arrangement in a way that you will be getting some money and the operator retains a certain amount. It all depends on what figures we are projecting.”

He was, however, non-committal on when the project would commence. The county advertised the project three weeks ago with documents supposed to be submitted by October 3. Once approved, the project will take between 18 to 24 months to complete.

To ease traffic congestion on the surrounding roads, the car park will be automated. This means that drivers will exit their vehicles at a designated spot and a mechanical valet will move the car to a pre-determined parking space.

Automated parking systems save on space as they don’t need the conventional entry/ exit ramps and are common in Europe, Asia and North America. This would be the first such system in the country.

“We are talking about 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles. If they are to be parked manually, this becomes unsustainable,” said Mr Odongo. Currently, there are about 12,000 parking spaces in the county and the development emphasises the importance City Hall has attached to income from parking.

This year, the county expects to net Sh5 billion from the service, making it the top revenue earner ahead of land rates. This figure has, however, been dismissed as unattainable by the accountant in charge of car parks, Mr Tom Tinega.

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