The effects of a government lockdown in Eastleigh, Nairobi and Old Town, Mombasa dawned on residents Thursday morning after the police flooded the estates to ensure movement was restricted.
In Eastleigh, about eleven roadblocks were mounted at major entry points to the densely populated estate that borders city centre.
The areas where roadblocks were mounted include near Rikana Supermarket and at St Theresa along First Avenue. This road links Eastleigh with Shauri Moyo, Makongeni and Pangani estates.
Along General Waruinge Street, roadblocks were at Kariokor roundabout, Pumwani Maternity and Medina Mall roundabouts.
A police officer who spoke to the Nation on condition of anonymity since he is not in charge of the operation, said although most residents had complied, some businessmen and onlookers had lined the streets.
“These guys have opened their shops and we have asked them to close. Their businesses are closer to shopping malls that are among areas to remain closed for the next two weeks,” said the officer.
While making the announcement contained in Public Order number 2 of 2020 on Wednesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said there was going to be closure of markets, restaurants and eateries for the period of the cessation.
“In order to contain the spread of infection of coronavirus in these two areas, National Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus (NERCC) has recommended further containment measures…there shall be cessation of movement in and out of Eastleigh in Nairobi and the area known as Old Town in Mombasa, with effect from today, May 6, 2020 at 7 pm for the next 15 days,” he said.
Today, the busy Garissa Lodge Shopping centre was deserted, with a few business people pleading with police to allow them access, which was of course denied.
A newspaper vendor at the Madina Mall matatu stage said he wasn’t expecting any meaningful sales today.
“The only people who come here to buy are those visiting this chemist behind me. I am not sure of meeting even a third of my daily sales targets,” said the vendor who accepted a request for a photo but declined to give his name.
Expectant mothers going to Pumwani Maternity were forced to flash their medical documents after almost every 100 metres. Those who said they were visiting their patients were not allowed through.
Police in uniform and plain clothes inspected every vehicle, and turned away motorists who could not prove they were among essential services providers.
Most residents in Eastleigh Section 3, Biafra, California, Pumwani and Majengo who spoke to the Nation said they feared they would not get food supplies for breaking their fast on Thursday evening.
“Police are not allowing us to go to butcheries and groceries. Some of us use charcoal. How are we going to survive? Even in Wuhan, China, they set out time for people to go and restock,” complained Aisha Ahmed, a resident of California ‘Desert’ grounds.
In Oldtown, Mombasa County, defiant residents watched in disbelief as police cordoned off the area.
The locals watching what was unfolding, but still failed to observe social distancing guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
CS Kagwe yesterday ordered all markets and eateries within the area closed starting Wednesday at 7 pm.
Additional reporting by Laban Walloga