Nairobi Commercial sex workers are not a happy lot. On Saturday, many of them took to social media to protest the demolition of Simmers Bar and Restaurant at the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Mundi Mbingu Street.
Sisme wrote on Twitter: This was the only place left for me to get some decent men. Where do we go now?
Karigirl wrote: “We are tired of this discrimination (sic). We serve the high and mighty yet no one seems interested in ensuring our places of work are not interfered with.”
Police on Friday evening removed furniture and everything stocked at the popular Restaurant in Nairobi CBD. A contingent of officers stormed the restaurant bringing to an end the sprawling life of the popular joint.
On Saturday, the restaurant , which is adjacent to 680 Hotel, was flattened and debris was strewn all over Kenyatta Avenue. For decades, the restaurant had become synonymous with live band performances, mostly drawing musicians from DRC. It also was a favorite for twilight girls intent on making quick bucks from amorous revelers – both female and male.
Elsewhere some of the sympathisers as well as those who frequented the joint for food, music and refreshments also condemned the demolition.
“End of an era? Where else can one go to for the best Lingala music?” Wondered Kamaugm on Instagram.
“The way they do things in Kenya is very crude. Did they really have to use such force?” Asked Odhisjosh.
Njeri Osaak wrote on Facebook: “Ati Simmers ni hayati? Last stop from Theater, Ndombolo ya Solo and cold beer kwisha! Haha!”
On Friday, Daily Nation reported there had been a long simmering (pun not intended) ownership dispute.
“I do not know what is going on. I do not know why this is happening,” the owner, former Kimilili MP Suleiman Murunga was quoted by the paper as saying.
“The police have stormed here, and instead of being an arbiter they have come with orders that have not even been served on me. This is impunity!” He said.
Popular Simmers bar and restaurant closed and property removed from the premises on March 2, 2018. PHOTO | COURTESY.
According to the daily, Murunga is engaged in a fight for the plot with the family of former Finance minister Arthur Magugu, which says it co-owns the property with Nilestar Holdings Limited.
But in court cases since 2014, the defendant told the court that the ownership of the plot by Nilestar lapsed when its 99-year lease ended in December 2009, adding that the firm has no right to demand rent for the three years.
Mr Murunga told the court he applied and received allotment letter on November 3, 2011 from the Commissioner of Lands after paying Sh2.4 million but Nilestar’s lease renewal bid in October 2009 was allegedly rejected.
In court papers filed in January 2014, Mr Murunga said he owned the premises he has rented for years on grounds that he was awarded the property in 2011 by the Commissioner of Lands after Nilestar’s lease expired four years ago.
He moved to court seeking a restraining order against Nilestar Holdings — which in mid-December threatened to evict him from the prime property over Sh1.62 million rent arrears.
On Friday, Mr Murunga said the case was still ongoing.
“The case is not over,” he said.
KSN has learnt that the restaurant has also been facing problems with the county government over land rates.
In May 2014, county government officials pounced on the restaurant to attach Sh1.1 million in land rates owed to City Hall.
However, Mr Murunga, who was at the establishment, wrote two cheques to the county to settle the matter that nearly turned ugly.
A year later, the county government was at the establishment again, this time demanding Sh12 million in arrears.
And in a related development, commercial sex workers in Busia County on Saturday marked the International Sex Worker Rights Day with an appeal to the national government to legalise their work.
Busia Survivors programme manager Caroline Kemunto led the team to clean Busia County Referral Hospital compound and wards after a peaceful procession in the town.