Streets deserted ahead of Barack Obama’s arrival

If there was any evidence to show that the country was expecting an important visitor, it was the smooth flow of traffic in the city centre on Friday.

County government workers on main roads like Haile Selassie and Kenyatta were busy the whole day.

National Youth Service personnel were outside supermarkets, while prison warders patrolled the virtually empty streets.

They demanded identification cards from pedestrians before letting them proceed to their destinations.


The measures appeared meant to ensure that criminals did not take advantage of the situation to cause mayhem.

Some businesses on the busy Kirinyaga Road and Tom Mboya street remained closed while others were open.

Owners of the few that opened complained of little or no business. Taxi drivers and petrol station attendants were the most hit.

“I have not had a customer since morning but I will persevere for the next three days. Let President Obama feel at home. It is a good thing that he is visiting the land of his father,” said a taxi driver on Muindi Mbingu Street.

An attendant at Shell Petrol Station on Kenyatta Avenue said he had done little business since morning.

He attributed the situation to Nairobians staying at home or travelling from the city since they had been told that major roads would be closed for the better part of the day.

Many people feared that city roads would be clogged with traffic and stayed away.


In other parts of the city, county government workers were busy putting a fresh coat of paint and sweeping streets in readiness for the US President’s visit.

Major banks were open, serving the few customers that patronised them. Some closed business at around noon.

Nairobi City County workers were watering grass and flowers planted only a few days ago.

They seemed oblivious to the social media ridicule of Governor Evans Kidero.

There were fears among city residents that the visit by the US President would come with a lot of inconveniences, probably the worst being interference with mobile phone network.

That did not happen, at least not on Friday.

The American leader will be attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit on Saturday.

His plane landed at JKIA at 8.02pm.