With organisers announcing 15,000 participants had already registered for the annual event with the figure projected to rise when data from all forms is processed, the security guarantees were given by top regular and traffic police officers.
“Any hooligan, who is intent to cause trouble, will be dealt with accordingly. This is not for this event alone but everything is in place, I’m not trying to dramatise but I cannot tell you how many officers will be involved but the number is adequate,” Superintendent of Police, Bosire Omukolongolo, who is the Deputy in Charge of Operations, Nairobi Area, told reporters.
He emphasised that metal detectors, trained police dogs and police on horse back are some of the measures in place to screen participants and supporters coming for the event as traffic police counterparts announced road closures for the day.
Three grenade attacks in the country blamed on Somali terror group Al Shabaab have rocked the country in a similar number of days leading to the heightened security alert in Kenya, with emphasis placed on an event that last year attracted 55 nationalities.
Senior Superintendent of Police and Deputy Officer of Traffic in Nairobi, Leonard Katana, said roads in and around Nyayo National Stadium that will be the start and finish area will be sealed off from Saturday 9pm with others where the marathon route will pass being closed to traffic from 3am.
Affected roads will be re-opened on Sunday from 1pm after all runners have been cleared with Nairobi City Council officers partnering the police for security and marshalling purposes.
“Let none be worried about movement of the vehicles. Arrangements have been made for those going to the three churches close to the route for worshippers. I urge heavy commercial vehicle drivers approaching from Mombasa Road to watch their speed,” Katana stressed.
He singled out the problematic single lane turn for 42km runners between Airport North Road and Mombasa Road where vehicular traffic has ran into athletes for mention.
“There are problems with that junction that is why we have discussed with the City Council to make it bigger and we will also put up signs warning motorists that that section will be a single lane,” Katana emphasised.
But the overriding interest among local and international media present was measures taken to guard the biggest marathon in the country against falling victim to the threats on Kenya by Al-Shabaab in reprisals to the country’s military incursion against the Somali terror group.
“We are prepared for this event despite the problems we have had in the recent past. Terrorism is all over the world and just like all security agents have tried to eliminate it and we have no other option than to eliminate it.
“I want to assure everyone that everything is in place. We have been on the ground for the last three weeks and what we are putting on board are the final touches and I urge all who will come for the event to be extra vigilant,” Omukolongolo stressed.
Major roads in Nairobi that will be affected by the closure include, Uhuru Highway, Haile Selassie Avenue, Kenyatta Avenue, Mombasa Road up to Enterprise Road and parts of Langata Road in addition to feeder routes to them.
Diversions for motorists and alternative routes were outlined for those seeking to gain access to Nairobi’s Central Business District, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and churches along the route.
At the same time, the Nairobi City Council announced a waiver of Sh5m in advertising fee for the event as it offered its personnel to back up security forces.