Walking around Kibera, especially near clubs like Garage Pub in Fort Jesus on a Saturday or Sunday evening, you are sure to see women standing on the sidewalks. They are sex workers waiting to catch the attention of any of the revellers who frequent the pub every weekend.
The story is the same in most estates in Nairobi, where some are even more daring and operate in daylight. The most affected estates in Nairobi are in Eastlands, where residents say the vice is eroding the moral fabric of their communities.
Although the trend is spread across the city, the most notorious estates are Kayole outside Nyama Vila Club, Umoja, Eastleigh’s 12th Street, Kibera, Pipeline and Dandora. In areas like Kasarani opposite Power Supermarket, Buru Buru, Donholm, Kariobangi, Zimmerman and South B, where the women parade from as early as 8pm.
It is something the Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (Kara) is aware of.
Henry Ochieng, the Kara CEO, says they receive complaints about estate prostitution from some of their members in Nairobi and its environs.
Mr Ochieng says the cases were initially isolated but appear to have increased over time.
“Residents from various estates have raised concerns regarding this problem. Most affected areas include Eastlands, mainly Umoja, Kayole, Ngara and Dandora. In upmarket neighbourhoods, Hurlingham along Argwings Kodhek Road is notorious,” he says.
In South B, the stretch from Tabernacle Church to Capital Centre is well known.
“Even the smallest vibanda (sheds) selling mandazi here also sell condoms,” revealed a resident.
In Pipeline in Embakasi South constituency, residents say sex workers start operating from as early as 8pm until dawn every day.
They say the twilight girls come from as far as Kayole; early in the morning, they will be seen boarding matatus to leave the estate. The practice has spread to AA estate, which neighbours Imara Daima.
Local churches in the estate like the Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya (FPFK) and Glory of Christ are fighting the menace albeit spiritually. Two weeks ago, FPFK organised a procession throughout Pipeline estate before holding a crusade.
For Solomon Mwalili, the move to save Pipeline from prostitution is part of a divine mission.
“We want to reclaim Pipeline estate for Jesus Christ and we are trying our best by holding crusades in the estate,” he says.
“As a church we have also come up with Uzima Vocational Training Institute, where these girls can be trained in short courses like dress-making and hairdressing among others to earn a decent living,” adds Pastor Mwalili.
Residents of Nyayo Estate have in the past complained of some houses being turned into brothels. This was confirmed by Robert Alai, the chairman of Nyayo Estate Residents Association.
“A few months ago, we had to engage the police to close down drug dens and brothels in Nyayo estate. Now the operations of these gangs have moved to the nearby Tassia and Fedha estates,” he says.
According to Mr Alai, this trend is appalling and erodes the social and moral fabric of the communities involved.
“The thirst for quick wealth and failure by the county and national governments to enforce the laws of the land has seen a steep increase in brothels, strip clubs, prostitutes and drug dens in our estates,” he adds.
In Kawangware, young girls circle around Bora Bora Hotel, Zebra Bar, Myers Bar and Restaurant, and Mukaro, especially on weekends.
Sometimes, an encounter with them can be a little embarrassing as Amos Osisi, who lives near Bora Bora Hotel, found out.