The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: CPU Warns of Continued Heavy Rains

THE Civil Protection Unit has urged travellers to first gather information about the weather and infrastructural situation of places they intend to travel to before they set on a journey, as heavy rains continue to pound the country.

CPU director Mr Madzudzo Pawadyira said most people were blindly embarking on journeys only to be trapped by either floods or collapsed bridges upon their return.

Mr Pawadyira's remarks come in the wake of more than 100 mourners including Central Vehicle Registry officials who were stranded for four days in Tanda village, Headlands.

The mourners were subsequently rescued on Tuesday evening but not before they faced several inconveniences such as hunger and no decent place to sleep.

Mr Pawadyira said there was a delay in rescuing them owing to bad weather and the helicopter from Airforce of Zimbabwe was rescuing other people in Save who were in a life-threatening situation.

"When people intend to travel, they should seek advice from the local police of where they intend to go, meteorology department and even our department. If you anticipate problems, get advice as well," he said.

"In the present case of the mourners, I was made to understand that they had complained that the roads were treacherous but they still proceeded. I do understand that they had to go to bury a colleague but it is very important to plan beforehand accordingly."

Asked if the delay in rescuing mourners did not expose the CPU in terms of its preparedness on disaster management, Mr Pawadyira said they were well prepared.

"We had to attend to people whose situation was life-threatening first. The mourners were on dry ground and not in any way under threat. They were only inconvenienced but their lives were not in danger," he said.

One of the affected mourners Mr Elisha Chabuka said they survived on wild fruits such as nhengeni and the community's benevolence.

The CVR had gone with food to reimburse the villagers but failed to deliver it due to the roads that were still impassable.

They returned with the hampers that include mealie-meal, cooking oil among others saying they would deliver when the rivers had subsidised.

"We were eating one meal per day after we pooled the little money we had to buy two goats, three chickens. We would also go into the forest to look for nhengeni," said Mr Chabuka.

Among the mourners were pregnant mothers, chronic ailments patients who had left their medication back home and breastfeeding mothers.

The ordeal by the mourners started when they were returning to the capital after burying their colleague, Ms Wendy Saumba when they saw a bridge with overflowing water.

"It was dark then so we decided to sleep and cross the next day hoping then the water would have subsided," said Mrs Dambudzo Juma.

"The following morning we noted that the bridge had been swept away by the raging waters. We then decided to drive back and use an alternative route where we saw that the river was flooding. That marked the beginning of our problems."

She said on the first night they ate all the food that an elderly woman who played the Good Samaritan role had given them.

"She was left with virtually nothing as she had given us all what she had in her granary," she said.

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