THIRTY-FIVE Central Vehicle Registry staff have been marooned in Chiendambuya, Manicaland, since Saturday after bridges were swept away by heavy rains as they returned from a colleague's funeral.
The floods have not only left the staff members stranded in terms of food, clothes and where to sleep, but have paralysed operations at CVR.
Customers were being turned away yesterday because there was no one to attend to them.
The staff members, who were travelling on a CMED bus, were on their way from the funeral of Ms Wendy Saumba in Tanda Village only to discover that a bridge they were supposed to cross had collapsed due to heavy rains.
The alternative route had flooded rivers.
There are reports that prospects of the rivers subsiding were slim as more rains were expected in the area, further compounding their plight.
Director responsible for Transport in the Ministry of Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development Mr Allowance Sango said they had dispatched a team near the area to find how they could be assisted.
"They had not carried anything with them because they intended to come back the same day.
"We have people who are on special medication, pregnant women, among others," said Mr Sango.
"We dispatched two teams from the Department of Roads, but at the moment their phones are now unreachable. We are also engaging Civil Protection, Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development and the Air Force of Zimbabwe."
Mr Sango said while AFZ sympathised with them, it had indicated that it was constrained in terms of resources.
"The most affected department is that of motor registration.
"It is virtually closed because most of the staff worked in that department because that is where the deceased worked," he said.
"Other departments like licences and others are limping with limited staff. Most of our offices are closed and most of the cars outside our building belong to the staff because they were anticipating to return the same day."
When The Herald visited the CVR offices, customers were being turned away while Mr Sango and CVR Registrar Mr George Makoni were said to be in a meeting.
In a telephone interview, one of the affected staff said food was the biggest challenge.
"We do not have food to eat, the little money we had, was used to buy some food in the neighbourhood.
"Another challenge is that of clothes and where to sleep. We are all sleeping in a bus squashed together," said the staff member who declined to be identified.
Most of their mobile phones had run out of power.
The Meteorological Department has since issued flooding warnings in the wake of heavy rains.
It urged people in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.
The Met Department yesterday said heavy rains in excess of 50mm in 24 hours were expected in some parts of Zimbabwe between today and January 22.
The rains have broken records set as far back as the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Senior meteorological officer Mr Jonathan Chifuna yesterday said cloudy conditions with intermittent rain and outbreaks of thunder should be expected for the entire period.
"Low-lying areas especially in flood plains like Muzarabani, Mbire and Save Valley are more in danger of flooding while in urban areas there is also the danger of flash floods. These can occur anywhere," said Mr Chifuna.
He said moist conditions prevailed from January 7 to 13, resulting in moderate to heavy rainfall across Zimbabwe.
"In some cases, very heavy falls in excess of 100mm in 24 hours were experienced.
"Falls in Nyanga on 12 January of 164mm in 24 hours broke the record of 111mm set on 6 January 1959.
"Mutoko had 94mm which also broke the record set on 28 January 1963 of 77mm.
"The south of the country, that has generally been dry for most parts of the season received substantial falls, especially around Masvingo.
"The ground has become water-logged in places and the drainage of water has been greatly reduced," said Mr Chifuna.
Nyanga, therefore, recorded the highest falls during that period.
It was followed by Mutare with 125mm, Rusape with 113mm, Mutoko on 93mm with Chisengu recording 87mm.
Many other areas recorded significant amounts of rainfall of between 50mm and 65mm.
Mr Chifuna warned tobacco farmers to insure their crop to curb losses in the event of the crop being damaged by hail.
"I would advise the farmers to work closely with their local Agritex officers for advice on ways of protecting their crops from the rains and on what agronomic activities to do," he said.
He said motorists should not attempt to cross flooded low-lying bridges.
"People should quickly move to higher ground if they notice that their area is becoming flooded.
"They must also not take shelter under trees during thunderstorms to avoid being electrocuted.
"On the other hand, people should refrain from parking vehicles under big and old trees as the trees may fall while those with chores to perform should refrain from working in the open when it is raining."