How to be safe in Nairobi, Kenya

How to be safe

How can you stay safe in Nairobi, Kenya?

Are you a tourist visiting Kenya for the first time or a Kenyan moving from another city to Nairobi? Security is a basic need that needs to be met at all times. This article will answer the following questions:
1. Is Nairobi safe?
2. How can I stay safe in Nairobi?
3. Which places should I avoid while in Nairobi?
4. What are the Nairobi crime hotspots and danger zones?
5. Which place is safe for me in Nairobi?

Nairobi crime hotspots and danger zones

Nairobi has been voted the world’s third most preferred destination and top destination in Africa. Though the Nairobi safety index is 42 percent, there are places that are considered high-risk areas. According to security stakeholders, most of the crime hotspots are unsafe at night especially if you are walking alone.

In Langata, it is advisable to be careful around Kibera, Highrise, Line Saba, Kiandaa, Bombolulu, Karanja road, Migingo, Soweto, Lindi, and Salama. You are likely to get robbed or assaulted in these areas at any time of the day.

In Embakasi, Kayole, Maringo, Highridge Teachers college playing ground, Soweto-Embakasi Bridge, Gitari, opposite Jacaranda Estate, Kangundo road-railway line junction, and Laikipia have been mapped out as high-risk areas all day long.

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In Dagoretti, Kawangware, Ndunyu, Waithaka kwa Ngángá, Mlango soko, Kasovo, Maumau, Ndwaru road, Kiana, Kabiiria, and Muslim Kawangware are famous dumping sites of dead bodies. Crimes such as drug peddling, trading in small arms and light weapons, armed robbery, boda boda theft are common in these areas. Avoid walking alone in these areas in the evening and at night between 6pm and 3am.

Kamukunji’s safety levels dip during the day, with crimes such as assault, armed robbery, drug peddling, SGBV, break-ins, mugging, kidnapping, luggage theft and theft of car accessories being common in Mlango Kubwa, Ngara, Eastleigh, Huruma grounds, around Chief’s place, Mathare North, Kiamaiko, Majengo, Kasarani, around Equity Bank and Railway headquarters.

In Makadara, the common crime types include theft, SGBV, assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, trading in small arms and light weapons. Makadara crime hotspots include Mutindwa, near the South B bridge, near the South C fly over, Makongeni-Likoni Road Bridge, Mukuru fauta bridge Mukuru Reuben, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Mesora, Stage 2, Kiambiu, Katulo road, Jericho sports ground, Uwanja soo, Jericho, and the Shepherds-Uhuru Junction.

Apart from the crimes highlighted above, you need to beware of pickpockets especially in public vehicles and crowded city streets.

Tips to stay safe in Nairobi

Safe commuting: Which mode of transport should you use in Nairobi?

There are various modes of transport in Nairobi Kenya. These include public matatus and buses, boda boda (motor cycles), tuktuks, trains and taxi. It is safe to use PSV matatus and buses to town and back. However, some buses and matatus have been hijacked especially when using risky routes or at night. Female passengers have also reported cases of sexual assault in matatus. Use these modes of transport during the day and avoid being the only passenger in these vehicles. Tuk tuks and boda bodas are safe for short distances. When booking a boda boda, do it at a stage where the rider is well known and not somewhere on the road.

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Trains are also safe as long as they are not crowded. But when it comes to taxis, avoid the traditional taxis at all costs. Some ride sharing services are safe while others are not. Female passengers have for instance been killed and assaulted in taxis. Uber and Little cabs have not had such incidents so far.

In order to ensure your total safety in a taxi, download the official app and make the booking yourself. Check the driver ratings if you want, and judge for yourself if he is a good person based on the experience of other passengers. Take the number of the taxi and driver number and send it to a friend. With Uber, it is possible for another person to monitor the journey for you to ensure that you do not make unnecessary stops or take detours.

How to stay safe during the rainy season

Nairobi has experienced crazy traffic jams during the rainy seasons because of abrupt flooding. Majority of the city dwellers also like to use private means during the rainy season for convenience purposes, so many cars are on the roads during those times. We have had cases where people leave work at 5 only to find a bridge has been swept off or flooded, and so they have to wait or use another route. School children have been trapped on the road for a whole night due to flood-related causes. Houses have also experienced flooding and leaders forced to evacuate people from their homes during the rainy season. It is best to ensure that where you are staying has no history of flooding. Avoid staying out in the evening during the rainy season. It is also good to ensure that your phone is fully charged and that you have internet access to enable you to monitor what is happening where. There are some free wifi zones, especially at some restaurants, universities, churches and workplaces. Look for a KFC or Java outlet to access free wifi.

It may help to always carry your charger in case you need to recharge your phone. Most restaurants, shopping malls, pubs have free ports where you can plug in your charger. Shopping malls such as Two Rivers and Garden City have secured charging booths where you pay to charge your phone in a secure environment.

Safety in areas of residence: How do I stay safe at home?

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Home is where you spent at least a third of your time. It is important to look for a house in a safe neighbourhood. Do security mapping to ensure that there are no security risks lurking around. Get the mobile number of the estate managers/caretaker, as well as local police for faster reporting of any security incidents. If you have a car, ensure that you have a parking slot inside the building. Ask if the estate has a Whatsapp group because this is where you get to know what is happening, and measures your neighbours are taking to stay safe. In addition, avoid bringing strangers to your house, including one-night stands.

Safety in restaurants and pubs

It is very easy to get your food poisoned or drink spiked. Drink spiking is especially very common in the city. Eat and drink only in reputable joints. If you are visiting a pub, do not go alone. While there, avoid leaving your drink unattended or with a stranger. If you want to visit the restroom or go to the dance floor, it is advisable to finish your drink or food first before getting up.

Safe dating: How to stay safe when dating a Nairobian

Dating is part of life, and we all need others in order to live a fulfilling life. If someone takes you out on a date, carry enough money and have some on your Uber wallet. Do not eat or drink more than you can afford. Meet in open places, and don’t start home visits too soon. Avoid receiving guests in your house at night especially if you stay alone. Do not visit his place alone to avoid date rape, and avoid bringing girls you pick up from the streets as they often steal from clients.

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If you go out for lunch or dinner, don’t allow him to slip away without settling his bill. If worse comes to worst, let everyone pay for themselves. Do not allow him to drop you home if it is late at night, or if you do not want him to know where you stay. Avoid surprise visits, especially if he/she just calls to say ‘I was in the neighbourhood and thought of you. Are you home?’ Do not loan him money for whatever reason, unless you are already friends.

Other tips to keep you safe in Nairobi

While you can get away with many things in Nairobi, if caught you will answer alone. Avoid doing anything illegal, including breaking the traffic laws. Do not cross the road at the wrong places, or while answering your phone.

Motorists do not automatically stop at the zebra crossing, so you must ensure that the road is clear before crossing. If driving, avoid giving lifts to strangers or stopping to help strangers on the road. Ensure you lock all your doors and don’t stop when people flash at you. Finally, do not use your expensive phone in public: pickpockets always have a sharp vision.

What are some of the safety concerns you have about Nairobi? Share with us and we shall try our best to advise accordingly.