The government has started cracking down on illegal immigrants from Pakistan and imposed a freeze on the free transit arrangements it has with the Asian country in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
A viral video of police surrounding an apartment block on Waiyaki Way has sparked a flurry of comment online.
In the video, dozens of police are seen surrounding the Waiyaki Real Gardens building with reports that close to 300 Pakistanis on transit to Saudi Arabia have been arrested and being deported.
For weeks now, Kenyans on various platforms have been speculating about an influx of Pakistani nationals in Nairobi and its environs.
The Interior Ministry on Wednesday said it was reacting to the surge in numbers of Pakistanis passing through the country on their way to Saudi Arabia.
The groups have been arriving in large numbers since last week, taking advantage of softer conditions on travellers from Kenya to the Middle East concerning Covid-19 regulations.
Dr Karanja Kibicho, the Interior and Citizen Services Principal Secretary said authorities had noted a possible abuse of existing free transit arrangements between Kenya and Pakistan.
“The Kenyan Government is alarmed by the threat of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic posed by the influx of foreign travel … The government has ordered an immediate crackdown on foreigners who are in the country illegally,” he said in a statement.
“The government will restrict the number of foreigners transiting through the country to levels that do not pose a risk to Kenya’s national interests.”
The Department of Immigration and the National Police Service will now check the papers of all those who have arrived in the country in the recent past. Those without transit visas will be deported.
Dr Kibicho said the crackdown would be led by the Department of Immigration and the National Police Service, although he suggested that those already in the country have mostly been let in on transit visas while enroute to Saudi Arabia for work.
Pakistani High Commissioner to Kenya Saqlain Syedah could not immediately be reached for comment, but Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna had indicated most of the arrivals had been let in as tourists.