6 November 2017

Kenya: Three Dead, Roads and Bridges Destroyed as Rains Wreak Havoc

Heavy rains pounding various parts of the country have taken lives and left a massive trail of destruction on key infrastructure.

In Marsabit County, two people died after raging floodwaters ran through their manyattas in Olom village, North Horr Sub-County, and swept them away.

At least 3,500 livestock were killed. Residents spent Sunday night on top of sand dunes and a hill.

RELIEF FOOD

On Monday, Chalbi Deputy County Commissioner Victor Kamonde said a team of 31 volunteers had launched a search for the bodies.

He said another team was distributing food with plans afoot to airlift relief to inaccessible places.

In Meru, 33-year-old Evans Kailemia was swept away by a swollen stream in Thinyane village, Tigania West, on Sunday morning after falling into it following heavy rains throughout the night.

BRIDGE

In Turkana, the Kainuk Bridge, a crucial link between Marich Pass in West Pokot County and Lokichar, was washed away.

Huge volumes of water from River Turkwel had weakened the bridge on Sunday.

There were fears of a humanitarian crisis as Turkana largely relies on the bridge as a passageway for essentials that include farm produce from farmers in West Pokot and Trans Nzoia.

"The river is about 100 metres wide, crocodile-infested and with huge volumes of water; it is risky for anyone to cross," Kainuk Chief Sarah Lochodo, who was among the stranded passengers, said.

CAUTION

Saying the bridge was a vital infrastructure, Turkana Woman Representative Joyce Emanikor lamented:

"The bridge is our main route and, thus, our lifeline. The Turkana people do not deserve this neglect."

The Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) said repairs on the damaged section had begun.

"We urge the public to observe absolute caution on this section of the Kitale-Lokichar-Lodwar-Nadapal corridor until repair works are completed," a statement by Mr Charles Njogu, Kenha's assistant director in charge of communications, read.

"Additionally, apply absolute caution on all drift areas along this corridor."

WATER

In Kwale, besides several bridges, floodwaters destroyed the Marere and Mkanda water pipelines.

"Residents and consumers of water from that line, Kinango and Kwale towns, will miss the services for some time," Kwale County Executive for Roads and Public Works Hemed Mwabudzo said.

Some of the damaged bridges were in Ndavaya and Kibandaongo in Kinango, Vyogwani in Tsimba, Mwena River crossing to Kiwegu in Vanga Ward, Mangawani and Mwembeni towards Lukore.

"The floods have also caused displacement of people at Uwanja wa Jogoo in Diani and inconveniences in Bowa Matopeni in Waa Ward," Mr Mwabudzo, said, adding that the county government would fix the damage in four weeks.

MOTORISTS

In Mombasa, motorists were stranded for hours on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway due to heavy rains.

Some buses heading to the capital city have in the past two days been forced to change routes, with major traffic jams in the coastal city.

"We need someone to come to our aid. We have children who need to sit exams and it will be hard for them," Ms Mwanaisha Abdallah, a resident of Mishomoroni, where houses were submerged, said.

MUDSLIDES

Meanwhile, families living on the Nandi escarpment, along the Kakamega-Nandi boundary, have been asked to be on the alert over heavy rains that could trigger mudslides.

Most parts of Kakamega have in the past three days seen heavy rains, resulting in flooded rivers and lightning strikes.

National and county government officials have put in place contingency measures for emergencies.

FLOODS

County Director of Meteorological Services Vincent Sakwa told residents to brace themselves for intense rains in the next three days.

"The heavy rains are likely to cause flooding in rivers and trigger mudslides and displace families," Mr Sakwa said.

He warned that the region is prone to frequent lightning strikes and asked parents to ensure their children were not exposed to the risks by playing in the rain.

RELOCATE

County Geologist Duncan Lizunela said the escarpment is prone to mudslides during heavy rains and asked families to move to safer ground.

The affected places include Khubasali in Kakamega North Sub-County, Chimoi and Kapkangani and the neighbouring Vihiga and Nandi counties.

He said the slopes of Mt Elgon, Bungoma County, were likely to be affected by mudslides if the rains persisted.

Reports by Ahmed Mohammed, David Muchui, Irene Mwendwa, Isabel Githae, Bruhan Makong, Alex Njeru, Benson Amadala and Sammy Lutta

Kenya

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