Maputo — Four children drowned in the torrential rain that struck Maputo on Tuesday.
According to a report in Wednesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, torrents of storm water carried the children away in the neighbourhoods of Mahotas and Maxaquene. By late afternoon only two of the four bodies had been recovered.
According to the meteorological services, 40 millimetres of rain fell in two hours. The storm swamped low lying areas of the city, turned roads into rivers, and brought much economic activity in Maputo to a standstill.
The poor drainage and sanitation systems meant that storm water and waste water were mixed, causing a serious threat of outbreaks of diarrhoeal disease. In places, the water was so deep that TV cameras could catch children swimming across what are normally open spaces.
The rain was not unexpected. The National Meteorology Institute had forecast heavy rain, but Maputo Municipal Council seems to have taken no precautions, such as unblocking the storm drains, by removing rubbish and silt from the city’s drainage channels.
The same scenario is repeated every rainy season. Yet the Municipal Council always seems surprised when it rains during the rainy season.
The central provinces are now bracing themselves for a serious flood on the country’s largest river, the Zambezi. The river is above flood alert level for most of its length within Mozambique. People living near the river in Tete, Manica and Sofala provinces have been warned to leave areas at risk of flooding.
According to the general manager of the Zambezi Regional Water Board (ARA-Zambeze), Custodio Vicente, although the rains in the central region are now easing, the Zambezi’s main tributaries (the Luia, the Revubue, the Luenha and the Chire) are still very high and are pouring vast amounts of water into the main river.
“Our measuring stations on the Lower Zambezi are still recording rises in the river’s level”, he said.
In Tete province all the local emergency committees have been activated.
“We have the situation under control in all districts”, the provincial delegate of the country’s relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), Joaquim Kuripa told reporters. “Along the Zambezi basin, particularly in Mutarara in the south of the province, all our logistical resources are ready for an intervention at any moment, in the event of an emergency”.
The rains in Tete have cut many of the province’s roads, isolating the Mutarara, Zumbo and Chifunde district capitals.
In the southern province of Inhambane, the Inhanombe river remains above flood alert level, but the level is now falling. The rains in Inhambane have driven 800 people from their homes in Govuro and Homoine districts.
The authorities are housing them in temporary accommodation centres.
The rains have also worsened the erosion that is threatening to engulf Homoine town. Enormous craters have opened in roads in the town centre, exposing buried water pipes and electricity cables. The access road into the town could be swept away at any moment.