Traffic chaos as key roads close for Obama visit

Inspector- General  of Police Joseph Boinnet (centre) addresses the media at Harambee House in Nairobi on security plans ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE
Inspector- General of Police Joseph Boinnet (centre) addresses the media at Harambee House in Nairobi on security plans ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE 

Key roads in Nairobi will be closed during US President Barack Obama’s three-day stay in Nairobi, setting the stage for a transport chaos that is likely to paralyse operations in the city.

The roads to be closed during the visit are Mombasa Road, Waiyaki Way, and Uhuru Highway, among others leading to the city centre.

From 2pm until late at night on Friday, Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway, Chiromo Road and Museum Hill Road will be closed to all but emergency and security vehicles, according to Nairobi County traffic commandant Edward Mwamburi.

President Obama is expected to arrive in the country on Friday and leave on Sunday.

“Haile Selassie Avenue, parts of Moi Avenue near the roundabout, Haile Selassie Avenue and Landhies Road intersection and parts of Waiyaki Way, will be closed and directed by traffic officers on that day” said Mr Mwamburi.

On Saturday morning, Limuru Road, a section of Thika Road, Waiyaki Way will be closed from morning till later in the afternoon.

President Obama is expected at the UN complex in Gigiri during the weekend for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit that will bring together business owners, educators, policymakers and investors to support the growth of new enterprises in developing regions. 

The whole of Sunday, when Mr Obama is expected at the Moi International Sports Centre stadium auditorium in Kasarani, Thika Road, Waiyaki Way and a section of Limuru Road will be closed.

Kenya will also close its airspace to all other flights for 50 minutes to allow US President Barack Obama to land safely at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Friday evening.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has written to all airlines and travel firms, informing them that the airspace would be closed between 7.45pm and 8.35pm.

This look set to disrupt operations at the airport with carriers like Kenya Airways saying flights would be delayed by up to one hour.

Information regarding Mr Obama’s itinerary during his three-day stay in the country has remained closely guarded by both the Kenyan government and the US Embassy.

“We request that motorists ... accommodate all the changes that may come in between, depending on unexpected changes in the schedule of the heads of state and other dignitaries.

“We kindly request that they accord the police officers all the respect so as to ease movement,” Mr Mwamburi said.

He said roads that will be used by President Obama would be closed two hours before the event. Businesses would not be disrupted during the three days, police boss said.

The police asked motorists to take advantage of the recently opened bypasses to ease their movement during that period, especially the Southern Bypass in Kikuyu.

“If you are a motorist and you do not intend to go to the CBD (central business district), take advantage of the Southern Bypass, especially if you are coming from the western side of the county,” said Mr Mwamburi.

“You may also take the other side of Ruaka Road so that you may join (the) Northern Bypass so as to avoid Waiyaki Way and the CBD in general.”