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Nairobi chaos causes traffic disruption, missed flights as Raila returns

Nasa demos Uhuru Highway
Anti-riot police clear stones from Uhuru Highway in the wake of their clash with Nasa supporters on November 17, 2017. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Chaos, teargas, running battles and suspected live bullets marred Nasa leader Raila Odinga's entry into Nairobi city centre upon his arrival from the US on Friday.

Mr Odinga and his daughter Winnie landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in the capital Nairobi at 11.13am, after after 10-day trip in the US.

From morning, traffic on Mombasa road and other key city roads was on a gridlock as hundreds of his supporters, the majority on foot, attempted to force their way into the airport to welcome him.

The traffic mess continued for the better part of the day even as Mr Odinga left Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in a convoy of tens of vehicles accompanied by a host of Nasa leaders and hundreds of their supporters.

Kenya Airways noted that although its flight operations were running as scheduled, the traffic disruption resulted in some passengers who had scheduled departures from JKIA missing their flights.

The airline offered to rebook the affected passengers without charging extra fees.

"Our operations are running as scheduled. Any guest who will miss their flight will be rebooked on the next one, at no fee. This applies to all guests travelling before 18h00, from JKIA, for tickets purchased on or prior to Friday, November 17, 2017," Kenya Airways said on its official Twitter page.

Traffic mess

Chaos started immediately Mr Odinga's convoy left the airport, with the vehicle ferrying the Nasa leader taking the wrong side of Mombasa Road.

This was because the route heading to Mombasa had a gridlock stretching kilometres following violent clashes between police and Mr Odinga’s supporter in the morning.

The Nasa supporters had wanted to force their way into the airport but police lobbed teargas canisters at City Cabanas and other sections of the road to arrest their march.

The convoy later diverted from Mombasa Road to Jogoo Road but the chaos followed Mr Odinga and his team as police engaged youths.

Their plan was to march through Jogoo Road on to Haile Selassie Avenue, then into Uhuru Park, but the violent confrontations just would not stop.

Losses

The clashes between Nasa supporters and police brought business to a standstill on the road that serves eastern parts of the capital.

For the better part of the afternoon, no traffic was not moving as traders closed kiosks and fled for their safety.

A mini bus belonging to Forward Travellers sacco, a police lorry and two carts were torched outside Burma Market.

Along the road, smoke from burning tyres billowed and competed with the teargas police were throwing.

From Rikana Supermarket all the way to Muthurwa Market, the road was littered with the rocks Nasa supporters used to engage the police.

At some point, police resorted to using live bullets, with gunshots heard for a few minutes near Muthurwa Market.

A man was seen in pain on live TV after he was allegedly shot in the foot.

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Originally published on Nation.co.ke; Additional reporting by the Business Daily

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