What you need to know:
- Those stranded have taken to social media to share their predicament.
Nairobi residents heading home on Saturday evening were met with a rude shock after the police shut down major routes including Thika Road.
Citing the 8pm curfew rule, security officers were adamant that residents would not be let through until 4am, when the curfew ends. Hundreds of Nairobi residents were stuck on busy routes including Waiyaki Way, Lang'ata road and Ngong road.
Those stranded took to social media to share their predicament, YouTuber Diana Marua saying, "They have said we shall spend the night on the road till 4am. The cars are not moving on either side and there's an ambulance with a patient here, who will also have to wait. This is just before Mountain Mall."
One driver told the Nation that the roadblocks had been set up by as early as 7:30 pm and they were not told why.
The only feedback several commuters plying Thika Road were given was that the police officers were “following orders from above”.
“We have been in this gridlock for almost three hours. I am at Allsops ... vehicles are going as far back as Muthaiga. They (police) are telling us that we will sleep here tonight," a woman said in a video shared online.
The distance between Allsops and Muthaiga is about 7 kilometres.
Four kilometres ahead, at Mountain Mall along Thika road, the situation was not any better. Motorists blared their horns, hurled insults at authorities and screamed, demonstrating frustration.
The temporary roadblocks were also mounted at Kayole Junction, Wilson Airport, Lang'ata Road, Mwiki, Kasarani, Junction Mall, Coptic Hospital, Arboretum, Ruai, Utawala, Two Rivers and at Kenyatta University Hospital.
Several videos posted online showed gridlocks on all lanes from the central business district. There were no vehicles on the lanes from the CBD but they had also been blocked.
“Even those listed as essential workers are not being allowed to pass through yet they have permits proving they are allowed to work past the curfew hours," another motorist said.
The curfew exemption covers medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, national security officers, licensed media houses, the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Kenya Civil Aviation, the Kenya Airport Authority, power production companies, among others.
The move has been criticised by Kenyans who feel it may lead to formation of gatherings that may lead to more Covid-19 infections.
"Compliance with necessary#COVID19 public health measures is not about TORTURE as happening on Thika Road but about National DIALOGUE and community ENGAGEMENT on protecting lives," tweeted Dr Githinji Gitahi, CEO Amref Africa.
"Who thinks for this Country? Surely! So they decide to mount a road block in the middle of Thika Road because people couldn’t get home by 8pm?... What nonsense is this?...you want to tell me now Corona won’t be able to pass that roadblock? What the hell is going on?" Posted Xtian Dela.
"Thika Road is like a bad movie. Imagine essential workers caught in that traffic; kids and sick people caught in that traffic. Two wrongs don't make a right," posted Carol Radull.
Others Kenyans, however, supported the move.
Abraham Mutai wrote: "I totally support the blocking of Thika Road. Kenyans NEVER respect CURFEW times or even MOH protocols. We only wait for such times to shout our lungs out. If you can’t respect the 8pm CURFEW, sleep on THIKA ROAD. Thank you Kenya Police for following orders. Follow them all the time!"
Police finally allowed motorists using Thika Road to drive through the blockages. Reports indicated the highway was clear as at 11.45pm.