Nairobi sees virtual ‘lockdown’ over Obama visit

Nairobi, July 25 (IANS) Kenya’s capital Nairobi continued to see stifled activities as US President Barack Obama’s tour of the east African nation entered the second day on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Most businesses in the central business district remained closed and public service vehicles kept off the road as thousands of residents stayed away from the city centre to avoid disruptions caused by closure of roads.

A good number of roads in the city have been closed from public use as a security measure and to pave way for smooth passage of the US leader’s motorcade.

“I chose to stay home because business has been disrupted in the city centre. Nairobi is a ghost town,” businessman Gilbert Wandera, who runs a computer shop, told Xinhua.

As Nairobi saw a slowdown in activities, there was a different kind of lockdown in several upcountry towns.

People stayed away from their normal activities to follow the US president’s visit on television at home and in entertainment spots.

Many media houses are beaming the tour live.

In Kisumu, Florence Auma, a second-hand clothes trader, said business was slow.

“Many people have stayed away from town to follow the visit on TV. I hoped to sell more of Obama merchandise, but there are no people to buy,” said the trader who had US and Kenya flags and T-shirts.

Ouma was worried that the merchandise would remain after Obama leaves Kenya.

As in Kisumu, in Nyeri, save for entertainment spots where people trooped to follow the Obama tour on TV, other businesses recorded slow activity.

Among them were public transport vehicles that ply from Nyeri to Nairobi. With the closure of the Thika super highway, the vehicles could not go to Nairobi, to where they make up to four trips every day.

Similar experiences were reported in Mombasa where most long-distance busses suspended their journeys to Nairobi following the closure of key routes.



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