“ How long to the restaurant?” I ask. “About 40 minutes” the driver replies. It is the second time I have asked him and 20 minutes ago his response was also 40 minutes. I am traveling with a group of executives to a restaurant and we have forgotten to take into consideration Nairobi’s night time traffic.
Last year the BBC released a report titled, “Ten monster traffic jams from around the world”. Nairobi made the top ten. As East Africa’s economic hub, Nairobi’s poorly maintained roads are creaking under the pressure of the region’s rapid growth. The Nairobi metropolitan area is already home to 17% of Kenya’s population. With few alternatives, the majority of residents spend hours on congested roads. Last year, the World Bank approved a $ 300 million program to improve Nairobi’s infrastructure and other public service delivery. For most residents, it can’t happen soon enough.
On my way back to the airport things are looking glum. I joke to the driver that we might sleep here tonight. With a somber look on his face, he says, “Let’s see.”