Nairobi — Motorists caught up in the COVID-19 night curfew of 8 pm to 4 am in Nairobi were forced to stay on the road until after 11 pm.
In a coordinated operation, police mounted major roadblocks on major roads on Thika Superhighway, Waiyaki Way, Mombasa Road, Jogoo Road, Lang’ata Road among others causing major traffic snarl-ups stretching several kilometers.
The roadblocks mounted at 8 pm were only opened up shortly after midnight.
“We will teach you a lesson today,” one policeman was heard saying as quoted by a motorist on Thika Superhighway, “you will stay here until 4 am.”
Nairobi is among the five counties clustered as one in the current COVID-19 lockdown declared by President Uhuru Kenyatta last month to contain the spread of the disease.
The action by police sparked outrage among Kenyans on social media who accused the government of being insensitive.
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.- Carol Radull (@CarolRadull) April 17, 2021
Officials in the Ministry of Interior and Police Headquarters are yet to comment on the matter.
Since the lockdown was declared, motorists have continued to flout the regulations. The other counties affected are Machakos, Nakuru, Kajiado, and Kiambu.
In the Saturday night roadblocks mounted in Nairobi, even people categorised as essential workers were not spared.
Amref Health Africa Group Chief Executive Officer Dr Githinji Gitahi condemned the police action, saying “compliance with necessary COVID-19 public health measures is not about torture but the national dialogue and community engagement on protecting lives.”
He said enforcing the rules will not in itself curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, which has so far killed 2,463 people.
“Until we have vaccinated a good proportion of our population, COVID-19 infection is not the issue but who needs hospitalization/medical care, and can our health system provide it equitably? That means timely adequate surge oxygen, health workers and critical care beds.”
Do you know the number of essential workers stuck on the highway? Those leaving duty and those reporting for duty? Are you aware of how many emergency situations are stuck at Thika Road? Are you aware that there might be an ER doctor stuck at Thika Road?- Edwin Captain 🇰🇪 🇧🇷 🇳🇱 (@Edwin_captaint) April 17, 2021
Kenyans on social media criticized the police for the move, saying it was counterproductive.
Who thinks for this Country? Surely! So they decide to mount a roadblock in the middle of Thika Road because people couldn’t get home by 8 pm?!… 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?!?! pic.twitter.com/XwZ2hLOQuN- Xtian Dela™ (@xtiandela) April 17, 2021
Article first published on https://allafrica.com/stories/202104180198.html