Tough times for Dar city centre pubs

Friday November 17 2017


By Paul Owere

The Dar es Salaam Central Business District is known to be the place where serious business deals are struck!

Ten years ago this was also known to be the entertainment hub where revellers from the expansive suburbs came to quench their thirst after a long week and sometimes even during the week.

However the emerging trends today indicate that all is not well with the once busy joints settling for a handful of customers even on what is supposed to be a busy Saturday evening.

Facilities such as Club Bilicanas have been demolished whereas others have closed down due to lack of business.

Our survey at some of the joints in town starts at Break Point bar and restaurant that used to be close to the famous Club Bilicanas reveals that the place is uncharacteristically quiet.

Four revellers are watching the game between Ivory Coast and Morocco, the band that used to play here on such days is no more and instead there is some music playing from the background.

They, too, get disappointed and leave after The Elephants against the round of play ship in two quick goals that ultimately killed their hopes of making it to the World Cup finals in Moscow.

“Most people come here during the day for lunch and sometimes in the late evening but at night like now we receive very few customers,” says a waitress who did not disclose her name.

The nearby stalls that used to operate late into the night too have closed early as a couple of boys hang out waiting to wash cars for revellers, but they too admit that business is slow these days.

“ We are usually busy during the day but in the evenings these days we rarely get vehicles to wash as there are very few customers here,” says Karim Ahmed who has been washing cars at this parking lot for five years.

He is quick to attribute the lack of customers due to the closure and demolition of what used to be the hottest entertainment joints in the city Club Bilicanas early in the year.

“Most revellers who came to Break Point back in the days were those who were taking their while before they enter Club Bilicanas, now that this club is no more, they don’t find any reason to come here late in the night,” he says.

George’s Bar and Grill used to be just one of those places where civil servants especially bankers came to catch up.

Despite the renovations that have taken place, it too seems deserted, save for a few senior citizens sitting at the centre who were having some cold ones.

The barman too seems to be very bored at what is rather a very lonely counter as he wipes the glasses to hand it over to waitress.

What was once the VIP area, too, remains closed and according to one of the longest serving waiters, it is set to undergo major repairs.

According to the barman ever since government announced the move to Dodoma took away most of their customers.

“Most of our revellers were government officials who were transferred to the Capital City Dodoma and that is why most of the time this place is rather very lonely,” says the barman.

In Upanga, next to Las Vegas Casino, the famed Jolly Club was once a place where revellers mingled until the wee hours but that all seems to be in the past now, the turn up here is equally low. The girls who used to hang around this place have long left the area, the strict rules by the authorities have forced them to seek refuge elsewhere in the suburbs.

Changing trends

As the fortunes for bars at the city centre seems to be deeming there trend suggests a blossoming lifestyle in the suburbs where lounges have sprouted in almost every corner.

These developments according to have meant that not many people find it attractive to go all the way to the city centre to have the same drink that they can have in the comfort of their neighbourhood.

“In the past we would go all the way to dance at Club Bilicanas but even long before it was demolished most of my friends had stopped going there because we could still find entertainment in our neighbourhood in Tabata,” says Bahati Henry.

The newly renovated Forty Forty Club which is a local pub in Tabata is where Bahati and his friends hang out because they feel at home with the company as opposed to the city centre where they mix with strangers.

“In those so-called city pubs we do not have access to credit which is a limitation to some of us who earn money once a month,” says Julius Kipingu.

With more companies moving their operations from the city centre this has dictated the trends other service industries such as the entertainment joints that have been forced to follow them there.

In Masaki the famous Samaki Samaki was full house and the revellers here are rather from the middle income strata, no wonder they can afford the pricing of the beer.

The lowest price that a is charged for local beer at this watering hole is Sh5,000, this according to observers could also be a factor that especially those from the suburbs take into consideration.

Whether it is the pricing or location of these city pubs as opposed to the recent developments in the city’s lifestyle it remains a very disturbing spectacle especially with the view that some of these investments are yet to recoup the investments.