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Kenya: Firm Taps Technology to Solve Nairobi's Car Parking Nightmare

The two major problems facing motorists in Nairobi are traffic jams and limited parking space, said Desco Africa Ltd business development director Stephen Mackenzie.
The firm seeks to end the perennial parking shortage in the city by introducing a multi-level mechanised parking system.For Mackenzie, it is the duty of the government to build roads which will in turn ease traffic jams. But it is the job of private companies to build parking spaces.
And that is where his company comes in.

The entrepreneur said a recent IMB report's raking of Nairobi as the fourth most-gruelling city to commute in the world will soon be a thing of the past.

This he hopes to achieve by doubling the city's current capacity and cut cost. The technology involves stacking cars on top of each other using racks. A system of pulleys and motors is used to hoist cars and bring them down.

The parking system is borrowed from western countries which have embraced it to deal with limited space in their fast-growing cities. To meet its target, Desco Africa has secured agency rights from an Asian company as the main supplier of equipment in East and Central Africa.

The firm is in talks with various institutions such as the Nairobi City Council and Kenya Methodist University to build parking spaces for them, but most of the plans are still at the initial stage.

Mr Tom Odongo, the director of Planning at City Hall, said that such a system could be the solution to tackle parking space shortage in Nairobi.

"They have proposed to construct a 962-seater parking bay next to the law courts at space that holds around 250 vehicles," said Mr Odongo.

"Given the high influx of cars into the central business district, construction of mechanised parking lots is a good investment --just as good as building an office block or buying a piece of land," he said.

It is estimated that over 10,000 vehicles pass through the CBD daily. Currently, motorists pay Sh140 for parking in town per day. A move by the council to increase this amount to Sh300 last year, to dissuade people from parking in town, was resisted and a court decision forced City Hall to backtrack.

The only example of the system in Nairobi is at Transnational Building on Mama Ngina Street. Some investors are sceptical of its working, a fear Mr Mackenzie hopes will wane once they start setting them up.

However, funding for such projects does not come cheap as the cost of installing one rack or parking tray costs up to Sh1 million whereas the scaled home installation costs half that amount.
Desco Africa Ltd.
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