Mozambique: Torrential Rain Turns Fatal in Beira

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Maputo — Torrential rain is continuing to fall in the central Mozambican city of Beira, and on Monday claimed the life of a 15 year old boy.

According to the Beira municipal councilor for construction and town planning, Albano Cariz, interviewed by Radio Mozambique, the boy was swept to his death while playing football with friends.

"While it was raining, the kids were playing football, and the ball went to the zone of Tamega", said Cariz. "The group of boys went after the ball, and one of them was dragged away and has disappeared".

Cariz said that when the Municipal Council became aware of what had happened, it mobilised a team from his department to search for the boy's body, so far without success.

Cariz called on Beira citizens to take preventive measures and to fence any wells in their yards, so that people do not fall into them. He warned that the rainy season is still in its early stages. Usually the peak of the rains in Beira comes in February.

"We need to take all possible care", he said. "Yesterday alone about 100 millimetres of rain fell in 24 hours. That's a lot of rain, and it can cause a lot of human and material damage".

Parts of Beira, including the neighbourhoods of Indunda, Praia Nova, Vaz, Chipangara and Manga Mascarenhas, are already flooded, and the situation is likely to worsen.

Beira has by no means fully recovered from cyclone Idai, which struck the city in March 2019, and now the residents are bracing for a further disaster - although so far without cyclonic winds. Many buildings damaged during Idai have not been fully repaired yet, and are being flooded again.

Praia Nova is a particularly problematic neighbourhood, where storm water trying to leave the city meets the incoming Indian Ocean tides. The Municipal Council has told residents the area is not suitable for housing, and immediately after Idai, the Council managed to resettle most of the Praia Nova residents in safer areas. But gradually they have drifted back, claiming that it is easier to make a living in Praia Nova than in the resettlement areas.

The city's new drainage system is not working properly, although it is less than 18 months old. It was inaugurated, by President Filipe Nyusi, in September 2018, and cost 50 million US dollars, provided by the World Bank.

Expectations that the new system would end the regular flooding of Beira, and thus reduce the burden of water-borne diseases, have been dashed - and mostly because of outright vandalism. Despite all the pleas from central and municipal government officials, many Beira residents are continuing to dump rubbish into the drainage channels. Clogged by the city's garbage, the system cannot do its job of channeling storm waters efficiently towards the ocean.

Over the last couple of days, municipal teams have worked to clear the rubbish out of the channels. According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique", "a colossal amount of plastic" was removed, along with various metallic objects, old clothing, tyres and even discarded suitcases.

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