By Oscar Obonyo
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: There was beehive of activity as security was tightened in the Tanzania city of Dar es Salaam, ahead of American President Barack Obama’s arrival this morning.
Officials engaged in last minute duties, including raising US and Tanzanian flags along major highways and sprucing up the town in a major clean up exercise.
Meanwhile, trucks full of uniformed police and military officers combed the city most of Sunday as, various Government and city officials held press conferences to address Tanzanians on the pending visit.
Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Said Meck Sadick, warned residents and visiting foreigners that activities at the Julius Nyerere International Airport shall be halted most of the morning, shortly before and after Obama’s arrival.
“Those of you who will be flying out, must be at the airport three hours earlier than scheduled. The roads leading to the airport shall equally be closed, some travellers and other users must act early,” he said.
There are also fears among Dar es Salaam residents that telephone and other communication lines might be jammed most of Tuesday. The last time the 42nd US President Bill Clinton landed in Arusha, communication in Nairobi Kenya was also affected.
According to a local journalist, Lawi Joel, security operations are more elaborate and tighter than those witnessed during visits of former US leaders, including the last one 43rd US President, George W Bush in January 2008.
“I think this is attributable to the Obama administration’s sustained war on terrorism as well as global militia groups. And do not forget that these groups are particularly active in this part of the world,” observes Joel, an editor at Tanzania’s leading newspaper, The Daily News.
Meanwhile, pressure groups in Dar es Salaam have threatened to demonstrate against Obama’s move to advocate for gay rights in Africa.