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Here's the easiest way to make money from doing nothing

By XN Iraki | September 8th 2021
Nairobi City Council staff collects parking fees along Muindi Mbingu Street in Nairobi. [Beverlyne Musili, Standard]

Nairobi County wants to start collect parking fees from the residential estates. A visit to most towns is punctuated by someone demanding parking fees. Some towns have automated the process. Why is parking fee so attractive?  Why is it one of those most noticeable sources of income for county governments? 

It’s an easy source of revenue, the costs are almost zero. Unlike a hotel where you cook food, in parking you do nothing. You just collect money. We could argue that the emphasis on parking shows a lack of creativity by county governments. Why not attract investors to give you billions in taxes and jobs? Which town has attracted a major factory lately?

The emphasis on parking is driven by old thinking that, everyone owning a car is rich and affluent. City county and other towns should think outside the box. If one brings business to a town, he or she should be welcomed with open arms, with free parking. The people who usually get free parking are not the most productive in towns. 

If a city and other towns are really serious about making money from parking, they should charge pedestrians “parking” for standing around. Remember poll tax? It’s not just parking that can make free money; owners of open spaces are making lots of money. Have you seen open ground for hire - for weddings and parties among other events? The owner does very little. The operating costs are almost zero.

It seems the next big business is open spaces for parking or functions. Instead of putting up those flats, you could make more money by doing nothing! Think of it, it will take you about 10 years or more to recover the cost of a block of flats unless you stole the money. The owner of empty land starts making money immediately without any liabilities. 

The rising population is making open space very lucrative. It will become more lucrative in future as we appreciate nature more and land becomes scarcer.  Some builders have since become creative; they have flat roofs which become an open ground for relaxation. 

How can open space make you money? Nothing unusual, the laws of supply and demand say so. As open space shrinks, so does its demand as the price goes up. Got some open ground somewhere? Leave it that way!


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