Kenyan authorities have beefed up security in Nairobi and its environs as the UN Conference and Development (UNCTAD) began in the city on Sunday.
The thousands of delegates drawn from 194 member countries of UNCTAD are attending the week-long conference on key economic issues including the fall in commodity prices, globalization, economic partnerships and sustainable development.
Leaders including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and over 80 ministers are expected to attend the conference aimed at shaping policy debates to ensure that domestic policies and international actions in trade contribute to sustainable development.
Roads leading to the conference venue have been sealed off as both local and international security officers stationed at strategic locations to vet delegates at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) where the events are taking place.
“We are under firm instructions not to allow any security lapses during the conference. We are here to ensure all bad characters do noT gain access to the meeting venue and ensure all delegates are safe,” a police officer in Nairobi said.
The police officer said they will be restricting access to vehicles, adding that anyone accredited to attend the conference as a delegate, service provider among others will have to display official badges.
Nairobi traffic police commander Leonard Katana has called on motorists to cooperate with the security officers to ensure free flow of traffic.
“Motorists are urged to comply and obey orders issued to them by traffic police officers at the junctions. Those areas (meeting venues) are out of bounds for vehicles with no official badges for the conference,’’ Katana said.
He said the restrictions on some roads will help to secure the conference that brings together more than 7000 delegates including Heads of State, ministers and business executives meeting to discuss global trade and economic development.
Katana said drivers of heavy commercial vehicles using Nairobi-Mombasa highway will also be diverted to avoid causing snarl-up in the city.
“Heavy commercial vehicle, trailers and articulated vehicles bound for Rift Valley region are advised that they will be diverted at Mombasa Road Southern Bypass to use Southern Bypass to Kikuyu for Nakuru. Similar to those heading towards Mombasa in order to reduce congestion along Uhuru Highway,” Katana said.
The quadrennial conference will bring together heads of state and governments, ministers and other high level players from the business world and civil society to discuss global trade and economic development matters.