Athi River bursts banks, cuts off transportation

Friday, December 6th, 2019 00:00 |
Buildings destroyed in Joska area, Machakos county, following heavy rains. Photo/PD FILE

Oliver Musembi

The devastating effects of heavy rainfall continued to be felt in several parts of the country, as more rivers burst their banks to the desperation of commuters.

Transport between Kiambu and Machakos was yesterday cut off for hours after River Athi burst its banks and overran the main bridge at Donyo Sabuk.

Hundreds of travellers were stranded on both sides of the river near Donyo Sabuk and Makutano trading centres as raging waters covered a large swathe of the road.

Thika East sub-county deputy commissioner Thomas Sankei warned motorists against driving over the bridge until its condition is declared safe.

Matatu plying Thika-Kilimambogo-Tala route and vice versa were forced to drop passengers away from the river banks as passengers waited for the water to subside.

Water volume

Residents said the river began swelling at around 8am as the water volumes rose rapidly following heavy rains upstream the previous night. A family that was travelling from Kitui to Kilimambogo to finalise wedding preparations slated for tomorrow had to cut short the trip and go back.

In Migori, about 1,000 residents have been displaced from their homes by raging floods.

The flood victims, mainly from Nyatike, are currently taking refuge in various rescue camps and in urgent need of relief supplies from government and well-wishers.

A joint National and County governments Disaster Management Committee meeting held in Migori town found that floods had destroyed homes and displaced people in Nyatike, Uriri, Awendo and Kuria East constituencies.

Migori Governor Okoth Obado who co-chaired the meeting with area County Commissioner Joseph Rotich appealed for urgent distribution of food, medicine and tarpaulins to save the increasing victims now facing the risk of dying from opportunistic ailments and hunger.

He said the county government will make urgent repairs on destroyed roads on short term as they work on logistics to offer long-term solutions. 

Rotich on the other hand said the security team in the area will move fast to close all gold mining spots in the region to avoid deaths of miners resulting from collapsing mines.

Guard mines

He directed Deputy County Commissioners and security agencies to guard the mines. “We have to block our people from going down those tunnels at this point when the soils are weak because of too much water. We want to save them from the danger of being buried alive in the mine pits,” he said.

The Red Cross Society of Kenya said more than 200 people had moved to a rescue camp at Kaputo primary school but lack food and risk contracting cholera due to the poor sanitation around. County Red Cross Coordinator Kevin Ochieng’ said some 10 households at Sagama village had been affected while hundreds of people in Senye, Nyora, Kabuto and Angugo villages have been forced to move to safer places after the over-flowing water canals at the lower Kuja Irrigation Scheme discharged excess water into homes.

And in Ruiru, developers of Northlands city,  are on the spot after their dam caused rain water to flood homes in surrounding areas yesterday.  

Since 2015, there has been back and forth between residents and project owners, which escalated after the wall at the dam was raised. Residents said the wall is a risk and wrote a protest letter citing the wall as a major restriction to natural flow of water.

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