CURBING COVID-19

Heavy rains force cops out of roadblock as stranded motorists capitalise

Police run away [to look for shelter], while GSU officers boarded their lorry

In Summary

•The roadblock was erected on Monday evening following President Uhuru Kenyatta's order.

• Short-distance commuters walked for long distances as matatus could not get to Uplands from the Naivasha side.

Police away from the rain and left Uplands roadblock unattended along the Nairobi Nakuru highway on Moday
Police away from the rain and left Uplands roadblock unattended along the Nairobi Nakuru highway on Moday
Image: GEORGE MUGO

 

Stranded motorists on Monday took advantage of heavy rains that forced police officers out of roadblocks to enter and leave Nairobi despite an order for cessation of movement in and out of the city.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday ordered a cessation of movement in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan area beginning Monday April 6 at 7pm.

But police manning the roadblock at Uplands on the busy Nairobi-Nakuru highway abandoned the barricade as heavy rains poured.

Motorists who had been barred from either entering or exiting the city took advantage of the downpour and breached the barrier as police helplessly watched from their shelter away from the road.

"This rain has allowed many vehicles to pass. They used only one lane since the spikes had blocked the other lane. Vehicles on both sides struggled who to move first,"George Mbugua, a resident, said.

"We saw the police running away (to look for shelter), while GSU officers boarded their lorry. The rain was too heavy, no one could wait," Wambua said.

 

The roadblock was erected on Monday evening following Uhuru's order.

Short-distance commuters walked for long distances as matatus could not get to Uplands from the Naivasha side.

Salome Wanjiru said they were forced to walk or board a boda boda to Limuru town.

"We have wasted a lot of time and money from one stage to another," she said.

Motorists heading to Nairobi from upcountry and those moving in the opposite direction were turned away.

Lari deputy county commissioner Aaron Koros said those who were going to hospitals, government vehicles, parastatals, media and food transporters were exempted from the travel ban.

In Kamulu, on the Komarock-Kangundo Road, Titus Mbuthia, like other motorists, was unable to get the Nairobi Metropolitan area and was unwilling to make a return trip on Monday night.

“I had gone to check a project I was doing in Kangundo. Was I supposed to spend the night at the site,?” he posed.

Law enforcement officers, however, held their ground and ignored pleas from Kenyans who begged to be allowed access.

When it became obvious that the officers would not relent, Mbuthia said he was forced to sleep in his car on the highway.

Yesterday, commuters keen to get into the city used various tricks.

Despite police mounting a roadblock ear Blue Post Hotel along Thika Superhighway, determined passengers trekked for over 500 metres to matatus on the other side. 

The usually busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway was deserted.

“There is completely no movement on Mombasa Road past Small World along Mombasa Road. Only vehicles used by people offering essential services and those transporting food to Nairobi are allowed to get through this area,” a senior police officer told the Star.

President Kenyatta said the metropolis include Nairobi and parts of Machakos, Kiambu, and Kajiado counties.

In Machakos, the metropolis stretches to Kamulu, Katani, Kamulu and Athi River at the Small World area, where police have erected a roadblock.

In Kajiado it comprises Ngong, Kiserian, Isinya, and Kitengela.

A police roadblock has been erected at Isinya along the Nairobi-Namanga Road.

A spot check by the Star on Tuesday established that Namanga Road was also deserted. Matatus were, however, operating between Kitengela and Nairobi

Kiambu county’s Landless, Kandara Turnoff, Tinganga, Uplands, and Mutarakwa are also within Nairobi metropolis.

Hundreds of Kenyans were intercepted on Kangundo Road on Monday night.

They were kept waiting at the border for several hours before they were allowed to proceed to their homes. They included passengers in matatus, motorists, pedestrians and those who travelling on boda bodas.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya confirmed closing all the region’s borders, paralysing all movement between Western Kenya and Nairobi through Rift Valley. He said those who were on the road after the directive took effect should return to where they had come from.

Natembeya said those who failed to cooperate would be put in mandatory quarantine.

Edited by E.Kibii