16 August 2013

Gambia: Flooding At Latrikunda Erinjang Residents Blame Bridge Construction As the Cause

Residents of Latrikunda Erinjang have blamed the construction of a bridge in the neighbourhood about five years ago as the major cause of the flooding in their area. According to them, the way the bridge is constructed is an obstruction to the flow of water which they feel should be further constructed with a water way to allow water to flow freely into the stream. The flooding, which was as a result of the heavy downpour of rain which lasted for about 12 hours from Monday evening to Tuesday morning, has destroyed buildings, valuable items and foodstuff of residents in some of the compounds that straddle the stream.

One of the victims, Ebrima Cham, said this is the first time he has seen such a heavy rain since he moved to that area. "Such rains have never occurred in this area. It used to rain, but the water never entered the houses, it only stops outside," he said. Mr. Cham further explained that the water started entering their compounds around 6pm on Monday until Tuesday.

"Three of our rooms which are occupied by tenants have fallen to the ground as a result of the flood," he said. He added that their television and DVDs sets, beds and many other household items got spoiled in the flood water. Explaining the cause of the flood, Mr. Cham lamented that "the problem is as a result of the bridge constructed here. The hole where the water is supposed to pass through is directly opposite our compound and so the water will come straight to my house." He added that at the back of his compound, people have transformed the area into a waste dumping site and which, according to him, also affected the flow of water.

"The only way they can help us is for them to further dig the hole on the bridge where water can pass just like the way they constructed the Bakoteh Bridge, otherwise the problem would not be solved," he said. Mariama Touray, another victim, said the flood has caused havoc to them destroying all their foodstuffs such as rice, oil, sugar and the food which she normally prepare for breakfast for her children. She added that her furniture, clothing and other materials also got soaked up in the flood water.

"The bridge is our problem here, because it is not constructed properly thereby obstructing the flow of water," she lamented. She called on the Government to help them construct water ways for rain water to flow directly into the stream and not their homes. According to one Fatou Touray, also a victim, the flood has destroyed foodstuff such as rice and other perishable things. "We don't even have time for our prayers not to talk of food. Before you think of praying, you have to have somewhere to pray because the whole compound was filled with water," she remarked. She said every year she spends over forty five thousand Dalasi on work in the compound in order to develop he place to avoid such disasters. Another landlady called Mariama said it was around 3am when they realized that the compound was flooded and that the water started entering their houses.

"The water level in the house was up to our knees," she said. "Before you think of food to eat or looking for something, you have to have a place to sleep. I am fifty years of age now and all my life I have been working in order to develop this compound, but this is really disappointing." The help they need from government, she said, is for them to dig water way so that when the rain comes it will have a way to pass through to the stream.

"I am working and earning my income which I can use to develop my compound, but the government can help us by constructing a water way for the rain water to pass," she added As Foroyaa was going round to the affected areas, this reporter caught up with an official of the National Disaster Management Agency, Samba Jatta, who shared their findings on the flood disaster.

Mr. Jatta said they have been going round the affected households since 6 am. He described the heavy rain as a natural disaster. He explained that last week embarked on an exercise at the Kotu Silo Bridge towards the other end trying to dig the place with an excavator in order to avoid flooding. On the work they are presently doing, Mr. Jatta said they have assessed every individual who is affected by the flood regarding the severity of damage caused by the flood, adding that in three or four days time after the assessment and when the victims would have settled down, they would then know the extent of the damage and see how best they can assist.

The NDMA official further said that normally they sensitise people on waste management to enable them to become aware of how to manage and properly dispose of waste. "I can fully remember in the 70s when we used to come here and swim in the stream. Then the stream was clean and connected directly to the ocean because there was no blockage and people used to do fishing here.

This stream is not functioning as it used to be and it is all the way from Silite," he said. The Disaster Management official also called on the residents to put in place measures during the dry season that will save them from future flooding. He also urged the people to desist from disposing solid waste in the streams which, he said, normally causes the blockage of water ways.

He also talked about the building of structures on waterways as a contributing factor to the floods, citing a mosque that is constructed at an area very close to the stream.

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