14 April 2014

Tanzania: More Havoc As Rains Pound Dar

Photo: Emmanuel Gbemudu/IRIN
Floods cut off Dar es Salaam from other parts of the country (file photo).

HEAVY rains. Raging floods. Washed away bridges. Destruction of other vital infrastructure and personal property. Several more deaths.

A close helicopter shave involving the Vice-President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal. The happenings above sum up the situation as incessant rains continued to pound Dar es Salaam and Coast regions for the third day running yesterday, rendering hundreds homeless.

President Jakaya Kikwete visited stranded passengers at Ruvu in Coast Region who failed to travel to upcountry regions after water overflew Ruvu Bridge along the Dar es Salaam-Morogoro-Highway following heavy rains.

Mr Kikwete, who was accompanied by his wife, Salma, and MP-elect for Chalinze, Mr Ridhiwani Kikwete, also visited another bridge at Visiga, which has developed cracks as results of the downpour.

Addressing hundreds of stranded passengers, the president said it was his first time to witness floods in the area, which is along the Ruvu valley. Some of the passengers had been trapped since Saturday night.

"I sympathise with you; but this is a natural disaster that we do not have control over. Let's pray that the water subsides so that you can continue with your journey," Mr Kikwete told the passengers.

He also urged food vendors at the area not to increase prices of food to the stranded passengers. He directed commanders at the Ruvu JKT Camp to look into the possibility of selling food at affordable prices to the travellers.

Meanwhile, the Vice-President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, and other leaders cheated death yesterday after the helicopter they had boarded on their way to inspect areas hit by floods in Dar es Salaam Region developed mechanical problems and overturned.

According to eye-witnesses, the chopper's propeller hit the roof of a nearby hangar at Terminal One of the Dar es Salaam International Airport before it swerved of the runway and overturned.

All the four leaders onboard and the pilot were pulled out of the aircraft unscathed. Other leaders on the chopper were the Minister for Works, Dr John Magufuli, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Saidi Meck Sadiki and the Commander of the Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone, Mr Suleiman Kova.

The leaders were slated to use the chopper to inspect areas that have been devastated by floods caused by heavy rains that have pounded the city and its environs for three days running.

Mr Sadiki told the 'Daily News' in a telephone interview yesterday that the accident occurred when the helicopter was about to take off in the morning.

The RC added that they all emerged safe from the aircraft and proceeded to the hospital where they were confirmed well. "In fact, after the accident we went by vehicles to inspect the Mpiji Bridge that connects Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo, which was destroyed by the rains," Mr Sadiki told this newspaper.

Meanwhile, ten people, including four children, have died and two others injured in Dar es Salaam following the heavy rains that have pounded the city over the weekend, according to the police.

In one of the incident, a three-month old boy, identified as Moses Michael, died after a wall fell on him at Mbezi area in Kinondoni Municipality.

The Kinondoni Regional Police Commander (RPC), Mr Camillus Wambura, said in the city that the incident occurred in the evening. "According to the boy's mother, Leah Mhesa (29), she and her two children Moses and Mathias Michael (6) were before the incident at their home when it was raining.

Unfortunately, the wall fencing their neighbours' house collapsed and injured them," Mr Wambura reported. They were all taken to Massana Hospital for emergency treatment but Moses died in the process. The mother and the other boy were discharged after treatment.

The body of the deceased is currently preserved at Mwananyamala Hospital's mortuary. In another incident, the body of an unidentified boy aged between 7 and 10 years old was found floating at sea near Bongoyo Island in Kinondoni District.

The body was fished by good Samaritans and taken to Mwananyamala Hospital where it is preserved. In another development, an eight-year-old girl, Agatha Thomas, drowned in Msimbazi River at Ulongoni area in the Ilala Municipality.

The Ilala RPC, Ms Marietha Minangi, said the girl was a Standard Two pupil at High Mountain Primary School in Pugu.

"According to the deceased's father, Mr Thomas Matale, the incident took place in the evening while returning home after collecting his children, including Agatha, from school," said Ms Minangi.

According to Mr Thomas's narration, Agatha slipped and fell into the raging waters as they were trying to cross Msimbazi River. The girl was swept by water before hitting a stump. She died on the spot.

Her body was fished by good Samaritans before being taken to Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) for a postmortem and preservation.

In another incident, a one year and six months baby boy, Josephat Japhet, drowned in a trench while playing near his home at Kiwalani Yombo in Ilala Municipality. The boy accidently slipped and dropped into the trench, which was full of rain water and was swept away.

His body was later found stuck on a fence a few meters from his home. The deceased's body was taken to Amana Hospital for a postmortem and preservation.

The RPC also reported that another body of an unidentified man, aged between 40 and 45, was found floating in flood waters at Jangwani.

In a separate incident, Ms Minangi said a motorcyclist, Richard Chipale (30), who was also a mason, was electrocuted after riding on a live electricity cable that had fallen into a flooded section of Tabata Segerea in Ilala Municipality.

She further reported that the body of the man, identified only as Mkojani, aged between 35 and 40, was found floating on water at Jangwani near Milima ya Baraka Church in Ilala.

Meanwhile, the body of a man, identified as Thomas alias Tomatoma (35), was found floating in a pool of water that was caused by the ongoing rains in the city. Temeke RPC Mr Engerbelt Kiondo said the body was fished by passers-by before being taken to Temeke Hospital for preservation.

A mini-survey by this newspaper in some parts of the city witnessed massive destruction caused by the torrential rains. At Msasani Bonde la Mpunga, some residents, whose houses were submerged in floods, complained that some people had blocked the waterway for construction purposes, thus causing the overflow.

"There used to be a water channel here but it was blocked by some people who put up houses on the waterway," one resident of the area, Mr Siraju Nganga, said.

At Ubungo Bus Terminal, passengers travelling to the northern regions were stranded after buses came to a halt following damages caused by the rains at Ruvu and Visiga bridges.

In another development, some residents of the floodprone Jangwani area have vowed not to return to the area.

"I will never return to this area; I am glad that no one among my family members were hurt save for destruction of property," the resident said.

Mr Sadiki summed the situation up by saying that the floods have caused a lot of destruction to the infrastructure, noting, however, that it will take some time to assess the loss caused by the rains.

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