Instead of reducing prostitution, the recent closure of a popular brothel in Saba Saba area of Mombasa has instead led to the upsurge of the vice and turned the area it into a Sodom and Gomorah of sorts.
As if to pay credence to the maxim, ‘desperate times call for desperate measures,’ the prostitutes who have been plying their trade at the house of sin have now ‘restructured’ their operations and now do it in the open.
In collusion with night watchmen, the women of easy virtue have turned virtually all dark alleys, concealed verandahs, corridors, buildings under construction, kiosks in the open air market and watchmen booths into brothels.
“This is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. Every dark alley has now been turned into a hookers’ paradise. They simply bend over the walls or do it while standing,” complains Nathan Karisa, a concerned local who lives in the area.
He says, unlike a while back when this madness had been confined in one notorious building, nowadays prostitutes do their business inside, between or against parked vehicles.
“Alcohol, sex, crime and chaos characterise night life of this place. The brothel was closed after a protracted court battle between the landlord and the tenant,” says David Chege, a local boda boda rider, who has witnessed sex in the open on several occasions at night.
Locals, among them Muslims leaders, who were always complaining that the brothel and the 24-hour pub were corrupting the morals of local youth in the locale are now regretting its closure, he says.
“Instead of relocating to other areas after the closure as we all expected, the sex workers have scattered all over this place. They now do it even in the open, so long as a watchman, hired to guard the buildings, is standing by for security,” says Chege.
He says the guards have been raking a fortune charging the women to allow them and their customers to use corridors inside the buildings to transact their business at night.
“The guards charge a hundred shillings for ten minutes and if you exceed the stipulated time, you pay double the fee or alternatively leave your phone or shoes,” Chege says, as he narrates the story of a man who was recently forced to leave in his boxer shorts.
“His clothes were confiscated by the watchmen after he took way too long than expected and refused to top up the security fee,” he recalls.
Samson Wafula one of the guards who is hitting it big says he is making at least Sh1,600 every night. He says at this rate, his dream of going back to his native home in Mumias to open a Keg pub remains very much on course.
“Many women are being drawn from other areas to Saba Saba because unlike lodgings owners, what we are charging is very little. We even provide men with free condoms which we pick from public hospitals and remind men them to use them,” he says tongue-in-cheek.
Amir Omar a Matatu driver who plies the Bamburi- Saba Saba-Ferry route told Crazy Monday that it is also not rare to see the guards directing the women and their clients to various buildings under construction, where they do their business with the watchman standing guard.
“There are no bedding facilities in those buildings, so they do it while standing. It’s unfortunate that security agents are doing nothing about it, because they get small hand-outs from prostitutes and their customers. Men are behaving like animals or birds. What we are witnessing is very disturbing,” he added.