City grinds to standstill as chaos reigns

Friday November 17 2017

A man runs with goods stolen from shops and

A man runs with goods stolen from shops and kiosks at Burma Market on Jogoo Road on November 17, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
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The standoff between supporters of Nasa leader Raila Odinga and the police brought businesses at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Nairobi city to a standstill.

The confrontation, which at some point turned violent, resulted in delayed flights as roads leading to the busy airport remained closed.

For the better part of the afternoon, no traffic was moving as traders closed kiosks and fled for their safety.

Shops and businesses along streets used by Mr Odinga’s convoy into the city centre also remained closed, while others were vandalised by a section of supporters.

FLIGHTS

At the JKIA, some travellers, desperate to catch their flights, were forced to walk into the facility after police officers barred cars and motorcycles from entering the facility.

The national carrier, Kenya Airways, said in a statement that it will re-book customers who missed their flights due to disruptions on Mombasa Road.

The airline said they had been affected by the disruption as many travellers missed their flights.

“Our operations are running as scheduled. Travellers who missed their flights will be rebooked on the next one at no fee. This applies to all guests travelling before 1800hrs, from JKIA, for tickets purchased on or prior to Friday, November 17, 2017,” said the statement.

Motorists on the busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway were not spared either as some had their car windows smashed while others were forced to abandon their vehicles and use alternative means of transport.

Chaos started immediately the convoy left the airport, with the vehicle ferrying Mr Odinga taking the wrong side of Mombasa Road.

BLOCKED

The City Stadium roundabout came to a standstill as police blocked the road in their bid to stop the chaos from spilling over into the City Centre.

A matatu belonging to Forward Travellers Sacco, a police lorry and two pull carts were torched outside Burma Market on Jogoo Road.

Along the road, smoke from burning tyres billowed and competed with the teargas police were lobbing.

Chaos would later break out at the Muthurwa market after the Nasa supporters engaged a rival group in battles, smashing cars in the convoy using stones as the irate groups engaged each other.

Traders at the market were yesterday also counting losses as the fighting group picked up fruits like mangoes and other wares, and used them as weapons.

At Uhuru Park, police cordoned off the ground and declared it a no-go zone for anyone including journalists.

Members of the public who usually use the place for recreation were sent away while a small crowd that had gathered at the venue waiting for opposition leader Raila Odinga were also teargased.

Small traders who usually operate at the grounds were hit hard as they were also told to pack and leave.

RUNNING BATTLES

When our team visited the venue, the police were hostile and only allowed us 10 minutes to take pictures of the empty ground then leave immediately.

Along Uhuru Highway, youth engaged police in running battles for the better part of the day.

The youth barricaded the road using stones affecting members of the public and those going to Rongai.

Most businesses within the central business district, however, remained open up to around 3pm, but few people were in town as they feared confrontation between the police and Nasa supporters.

Earlier in the day, before the crowd left the vicinity of the airport Saturday Nation reporter Brian Moseti was beaten up and injured by police who were dispersing the crowd. They took away his badge and left him with a swollen leg.

KTN’s Duncan Khaemba was also caught in the mayhem when the media company’s car was stoned around City Stadium.

Mr Khaemba was wounded on the temple after he was stoned by the rowdy youths and was taken to hospital, treated and discharged.

“I have been treated and I am back in the office working on the story,” he told the Nation yesterday.