18 January 2013

Mozambique: Maputo Prepares for More Heavy Rain

Maputo — Maputo is bracing itself for further heavy rain this weekend, on top of the 157.8 millimetres that fell on Tuesday.

The National Meteorology Institute (INAM) is forecasting a further 50 millimetres of rainfall in 24 hours over Saturday and Sunday in southern Mozambique – and in the southernmost districts of Maputo province, and in Massingir district in the neighbouring province of Gaza, the forecast is for 75 millimetres.

The fact that the soil is already saturated will worsen the chronic drainage problems in Maputo. There are fears that once again outlying Maputo neighbourhoods will be swamped, erosion will worsen, and more houses will collapse.

The latest figures on the damage done by Tuesday’s storm in Maputo are that 309 houses were completely destroyed, 406 were damaged, and at least 1,192 were flooded.

The electricity company EDM was obliged to interrupt power supplies to the worst hit parts of the city, and breaks in mains pipes deprived five neighbourhoods of their drinking water.

The raging waters swept away the soil on which parts of the Limpopo railway, which runs from Maputo to Zimbabwe, rest. There are three separate breaks in the line, and CFM has brought in fresh supplies of stone to shore up the line. It is optimistic that trains will be running again on Friday.

The weekend rains will also fall in South Africa and Swaziland, and INAM warns that this could lead to rises in the levels of major rivers that flow into southern Mozambique, such as the Limpopo, the Incomati, the Umbeluzi and the Maputo.

In the centre of the country, flood warnings are in place in the Zambezi valley. At Marromeu, on the lower Zambezi, the river is now a metre above flood alert level. However, Marromeu district administrator Simoes Zalambessa, cited in Friday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, claimed the situation is not yet alarming.

“We are monitoring the waters of the Zambezi, and we are using the local Community Radio to urge any people still in areas that are at risk to leave”, he said.

Further west, in Chemba district, the Zambezi has swamped maize fields near the river bank, and the crops are considered lost. The flood on the Zambezi has also cut off Chemba town from the neighbouring district of Maringue.

Traffic on many roads has been interrupted because of the rains. In the southern province of Gaza, the districts of Chigubo and Massanena can no longer be reached overland.

In Nhamatanda district, in the central province of Sofala, the Metuchira river has submerged a bridge, thus making it impossible for traffic to cross the river. Similarly a bridge on the access road to the town of Machanga is also under water.

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