16 May 2018

Kenya: Avert Disaster at the Seven Forks Dams

editorial

The government's warning over a looming disaster around the Seven Forks dams must be taken seriously and acted upon quickly. Precisely, experts have predicted that the chain of dams on the upper Tana River basin -- Masinga, Kamburu, Gitaru, Kindaruma and Kiambere -- are filling up too fast and are likely to overflow their banks within a week. It could be even earlier as the torrential rains continue pounding, posing grave danger to the residents of that locality.

This is significant notice. The country is grappling with last week's tragedy in Solai, Nakuru County, where the privately owned Patel Dam burst its banks, killing 46 people and leaving massive devastation in its wake.

CALAMITY

It is for this reason that we call for urgent steps to forestall any calamity along the banks of the dams.

First, the dams ought to be drained or the waters redirected to curb overflows; which should be effected right away. Second, the people, including those in the lower Tana basin, must be relocated to higher grounds to avert deaths. Third, we need emergency preparations to deal with any eventuality should the waters spill over.

Quote often, it is the people who are their own worst enemy: Resisting advice even when where there is mortal danger. Therefore, it is imperative for the local administration and county government to move in and relocate the people away from the danger zones. And this will require logistical support.

ISSUED WARNING

It is unfortunate though, that the Cabinet secretaries who issued the warning -- Mr Charles Keter (Energy), Mr Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) and Mr Simon Chelugui (Water) -- admitted that the government could no longer control the raging floods. In effect, they were telling the citizens that they are on their own.

That is quite depressing. It is the government that has the resources and capacity to contain the floods and mitigate their impact. Government functionaries must give hope, not spread fear among the citizenry.

In all this, the point being made is that danger lurks along the Seven Forks; hence, practical and tactical measures must be taken speedily and robustly to avert the deaths and chaos that might arise.

Kenya

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