The US embassy Nairobi has issued a travel advisoy to its citizens amid the strike by Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) that has halted operations at the airport leaving thousands of passengers stranded since midnight.
The strike caught many passengers by surprise and has led to a crisis at one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s busiest airports.
The workers are opposed to a planned handover of management to Kenya Airways as well as accusing the management of financial wastage.
Through KAWU Secretary General Moss Ndiema, the union claims the airline continues to pay hefty salaries to senior managers and consultants.
The US embassy in the advisory tweeted, “Alert: Aviation workers at JKIA began a strike March 6, 2019. Some air travel has been disrupted. – Please monitor local media for updates. – Check with your airline or travel agent regarding planned travel.”
Police and General Service Unit (GSU) officers engaged the striking workers in running battles lobbing teargas canisters at the crowd.
The workers union secretary general Moses Ndiema has since been arrested.
A water cannon was seen arriving at the airport even as public vehicles were prevented from accessing the area.
Long queues and passengers seated on the floor outside the terminals characterised scenes at the airport.