Kampala — Seven people died in floods in two separate incidents after walls collapsed on them during the downpour that pounded the city yesterday morning.
Five people of the same family, including a mother and four of her children, died in Seguku on Entebbe Road when a wall fence of their neighbour collapsed during the downpour at about 5am.
Police identified the deceased as Aisha Nassali, the mother and wife of Sheikh Adinan Mujiraneza, Prosper Adinan, Promise Adinan, Umaria Adinan and Huzaifa Muzanganda. Sheikh Mujiraneza was not in the house as he had gone for morning prayers at dawn.
Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said the bodies were retrieved and taken for postmortem.
"We are not looking at any offence against the owners of those perimeter walls yet. We are working with local authorities to find out whether the walls were built in accordance with the set guidelines," Mr Owoyesigyire said.
Ms Sarah Mugerwa, the owner of the collapsed wall fence, said she had notified the Local Council authorities about the looming danger to the bereaved family given the amount of rain water that flowed towards their house, but no action was taken.
"I also warned my neighbour. I had no control over his decision to vacate the place. Our land is raised but we have been experiencing flooding in the compound," Ms Mugerwa said.
Another fatal incident happened in Kikajjo Zone, Namasuba on Entebbe Road where a mother, Immaculate Namaganda, and her daughter only identified as Galanyi, were killed by a collapsing perimeter wall weakened by floods.
Mr Owoyesigyire said Namaganda's house lies in a wetland and her neighbour had blocked the drainage channel which diverted the raging water to the wall fence, which gave way.
"Namaganda and her daughter were moving near the wall as they waited for their neighbour to unblock the channel when it collapsed on them," Mr Owoyesigyire said.
The floods disrupted traffic in Zzana and Namasuba in the low land separating the two suburbs on Entebbe highway. The flood water rose up to two metres high destroying life and property.
Some urban farmers braved the raging floods to remove their chicken from their sheds and put them on the roof to save them.
Some residents used pumps to drain the flood water from their houses while others scooped it using basins and buckets.
Kampala Capital City Authority spokesperson Peter Kaujju said in the areas of their jurisdiction, they had tried hard to work on the drainage network, but they are challenged by encroachment on the flood plains.
"National Environment Management Authority is the lead agency on this. In our area, many of these areas are encroached upon by people. That is why government cancelled land titles in wetlands. If the cancellations are enforced, it will help us reduce flooding in the city," Mr Kaujju said.
Efforts to get a comment from Mr Gerald Lumbuye, the mayor of Makindye Ssabagabo Municipality, to find out their plan to check recurrence of flooding in Namasuba and Zzana were futile. His mobile phone was unavailable.
There have been several incidents of people dying in floods in the past but cases of collapsing wall fences have not been common.
Many people build perimeter walls which are as high as three metres to prevent criminals from easily accessing their premises.
The wall fence are also often erected on the boundary line of their plots.
The National Physical Planning standards and guidelines by the Ministry of Lands of 2011 state that a boundary wall must not exceed 1.5 metres up in a high population density residential area.
"Along the road boundaries, fences or walls must be set back one metre inside the plot to leave space for infrastructure such as water supply," the guidelines state in part.
Neighbours of bereved seguku family speak out
David Tumwine: "This was obviously a wetland as you can see, the house was built below a high wall which fell on the house in the wetland."
Maureen Kemigabo: "Government should enforce the laws to evict all settlers on wetlands. How do you build in a swamp and you have your entire family in such a place?"
Abdu Nsubuga: "Hajj (Sheikh Adinan Mujiraneza) is a family friend. I sold the plot next to him to someone who also sold it off. He has always wanted to sell off that land for Shs25m but the buyers were offering him between Shs18m and Shs20m which he rejected."
Samuel Batte: "It is the fault of the old man because there have been warning signs and he also used to see water seeping through the wall. He built in a wetland and insisted on living there."
Sarah Mugerwa: "I informed the area local councils about the wall weakening. It has rained here heavily four times. My home being the last towards the swamp, rain water has been using the road like a channel and it was weakening the wall which I brought to the attention of the local leaders. I also warned my neighbour but being the owner of the land, I had no control over his decision to vacate the place. Even us our land is raised but we have been experiencing flooding in the compound."
In September 2011, Rachael Omuntu, an employee of Barclays Bank, and a rider, who was carrying her on a motorcycle, were carried away by flood water when they fell in a trench near Muteesa I Road in Kampala. In March 2016, a woman was swept by flood water in Kyambogo and her body was recovered at Jambo Motors near Jinja Road.