NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 18 – Massive security was deployed in the centre of Nairobi from Sunday as the 14th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) got underway.
Thousands of delegates from across the globe among them Heads of State are expected to attend the meeting, necessitating the need to ensure there is no breach of security.
Besides the closure of some of the key roads around the venue of the meeting; Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), hundreds of uniformed and plain clothes officers were deployed in the city.
Barriers, manned by armed police officers were also mounted in strategic positions.
Besides the gains expected to be achieved in the business area, potholes were also patched up and hawkers driven out of sight.
“Things are tight here. You may think it’s a weekend around this place,” a resident of Nairobi, who did not want to be named, said. “I have never seen the city with many officers like this.”
Others related the events to those witnessed during the visit of US President Barrack Obama, though major highways remained operational.
“At least we cannot say we are that inconvenienced,” John Odunga, a resident of the city said.
“We didn’t know that the National Police Service has such facilities,” another said, while referring to one of the police vehicles that was stationed as a barrier at the Junction of Wabera and Standard Streets.
Roads near the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) – the venue for the conference – will be shut for all the six days.
“Roads will be temporary closed on Sunday the 17th July 2016 between 6am up to the 23rd July 2016 at 6am due to UNCTAD,” the Nairobi Traffic Commandant Leonard Katana said on July 15.
The closed roads include Parliament Road, Taifa Road, Harambee Avenue and City Hall Way.
Other are Standard, Mama Ngina and Wabera Streets.
Motorists intending to use the roads have been advised to use alternative routes to enter or exit the city centre, alternatively Haile Selassie Avenue, Kenyatta Avenue and University Way.
Drivers of heavy commercial vehicles using Mombasa Road are also being diverted to use the Southern Bypass via Kikuyu to travel to the Rift Valley.
“Heavy commercial vehicle, trailers and articulated vehicles bound for Rift Valley region are advised that they will be diverted at Mombasa Road Southern Bypass to use Southern Bypass to Kikuyu for Nakuru. Similar to those heading towards Mombasa in order to reduce congestion along Uhuru Highway,” Katana explained.
Nairobi has successfully hosted major global leaders and similar meetings in recent months.