– Acting Transport CS visits JKIA to be briefed on the measures in place. – Obama arrives on Friday to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
American security agents have secured sections of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi in preparation for next week’s historic visit of President Barack Obama.
The US President, whose father was Kenyan, will arrive in Nairobi on Friday to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit that ends on Sunday. He will be the first serving American leader to visit Kenya.
On Friday, Mr Eric Kiraithe, the head of security at the Kenya Airports Authority, said the US partnership in running the affairs of the airport was ensuring smooth operations.
“We have put measures on the ground. We are very prepared, we have received enough support from the government and our US partners,” Mr Kiraithe said.
All the necessary measures had been put in place to ensure maximum protection of the delegates who will be attending the summit, he said.
In the evening, acting Transport Secretary James Macharia visited the airport to be briefed on the measures that had been put in place to receive the high profile visitors coming for the summit.
Google, Coca-Cola and General Electric are among leading American companies that will send representatives to the summit in search of investment opportunities.
And Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said major roads would be closed to normal traffic during Mr Obama’s visit.
Dr Kidero said the arrangement would be in place for a short period after which normal traffic would resume.
He said the roads to be closed are those that will be used by the presidential motorcade from the airport, through Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway, Limuru Road and a section of the Thika Superhighway.
Nairobi traffic police head Edward Mwamburi said his officers were working on a plan to ensure a smooth flow of traffic during the visit.
“Details will be communicated in good time, advising the public on all the changes,” he said.
President Obama’s visit was also being felt in the major hotels in Nairobi.
The place where President Obama will spend his night is a highly-guarded secret.
Last year during a Brisbane G20 Summit in Australia, President Obama’s one-night stay cost $1.7 million (Sh174 million). The cost covered the 4,096 rooms where the team that accompanied him stayed. President Obama’s suite cost Sh205,000.
With the secret service monitoring affairs, officials were busy doing major branding of JKIA as visitors kept arriving. The number of local security officers had been increased within and outside the airport.
Taxi operators were all smiles with the number of visitors swelling by the day.
Top hotels such as Tribe at the Village Market, Windsor, which is located on Kiambu Road, Boma in Nairobi South ‘C’, The Stanley in the city centre and Serena are all fully booked.
In all the hotels, the government has sent security forces to guard the visitors. At Boma Hotel, off Mombasa Road, all the rooms had been fully booked. The situation was the same at Windsor, which has 138 rooms. At the Serena, all the 168 rooms have been taken up until August 1.
The Saturday Nation has established that the advance teams and other secret service agents, who are already in the country, were operating from some of the hotels.
“The US security agents are operating from here. They have booked two floors and even the presidential suite was taken nearly a month ago. Most of those here are the FBI, President Obama’s drivers and other officials whose identity we do not know,” a staffer at a five-star hotel told the Saturday Nation.
The capacity of all the major hotels in Nairobi is estimated to be 2,500 rooms.
With the overwhelming demand, agents of owners of residential apartments are also cashing in on the summit.
“We have received a number of reservations and currently I can tell you the houses are scarce. Others who have rented houses are giving them up and seeking alternative accommodation so that they can also get something,” Mr Alex Macharia, a real estate agent in Gigiri told the Saturday Nation.
Nairobi City County Government officials were in a last-minute rush to mount CCTV cameras on Mombasa Road, Limuru Road and some parts of the Central Business District in readiness for the visit.