Floods displace over 100 families as landslides sweep away tea bushes

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 00:00 |
Bomet disaster management team help families at Raiya village in the outskirts of Bomet town where up to six families were marooned when Nyangores River burst its banks on Sunday. Photo/PD/KIPYEGON CHIRCHIR

The ongoing rains pounding the country continued to wreak havoc as more than 100 families in Burgei area of Rongai in Nakuru were displaced and acres of tea bushes swept away in Murang’a and Kiambu counties following a landslide.

The landslide affected close to 10 acres of tea land belonging to six tea farm owners stretched along Nyanduma hills.

Residents of flood-prone Nyando area in Kisumu county were not spared the misery of the rains with 50 families reportedly left homeless while in Lari, Kiambu, residents woke up to shifting ground as landslide jolted the hilly terrain.

A visit by the People Daily  to the affected Rongai area found  those displaced  by the floods camping at Sesarina Girls Secondary School.

Rongai police boss Richard Rotich said the affected families moved to higher areas as a precaution after Molo River burst its banks two days ago.

He, however, added that the displaced families would go back to the homes once the rains have subsided. 

“Some are in the school while others have gone to other places,” he said, adding that fortunately no life has been lost so far. He thanked well-wishers for providing support to the displaced families. 

And in Kiambu, tea farmers along Lari and Gatundu South boundaries were left  counting losses after a landslide swept away acres of tea bushes.

According to the farmers’ chairman Dominic Kiarie, the area has never experienced landslide of such magnitute, adding that the  incident  has caused huge loss with residents fearing  that it might recur and spread to their homes.

The tea bushes were swept downstream with a sizeable dam being formed where the debris settled.

“We are lucky because nobody was injured during the landslide which caused massive damage. We urge the county and national government to help those affected,” said Kiarie. 

Huge losses

“The farmers had secured loans from banks and tea factories and they might face the auctioneers hammer if not assisted,” he said.

Emmah Njoroge ,whose tea farm was the most affected, said she was left hopeless as tea was her only source of income.

The huge losses came even as the government announced it had set aside Sh6 billion to cater for  infrastructure damaged by floods in various part of the country.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the funds, drawn from fuel levy, will only be used in places where urgent measures are required.

Speaking in Murang’a, the CS said the transport sector has been worst hit by the rains as roads and bridges have being cut off. Some of the most affected areas are West Pokot and Mandera.

“We are using the money from the fuel levy which is reserved for emergencies to take mitigating measures in areas which have been badly affected. For now we are responding to individual cases but in the long run all the damages will be fixed,” said Macharia.

However, the CS said Sh6 billion may not be enough to repair all the damaged infrastructure saying they are seeking to invoke some clauses for Treasury to be able to access emergency funds from other partners. 

The CS said a comprehensive assessment of the damage will be done once the rains subside, adding that his ministry is working with the military to lay bailey bridges in areas where transport has been completely cut off.

Macharia also said all the road construction works have been suspended due to the extreme rainy condition. Elsewhere  In Naivasha, communities living along River Malewa have been put on high alert following heavy rains  pounding Kinangop and the Aberdare forest.

This came as the government denied that the river had burst its banks cutting off the Nairobi-Nakuru highway near KCC village in Naivasha.

Reports in social media had indicated the section of the river near Naivasha town had been cut off due to the rains. Naivasha Deputy Commission Mathioya Mbogo said they are monitoring the current levels of the river, which he termed as safe.

Burst river banks

Addressing the press in his office, Mbogo said they had also received reports of the river bursting its banks, adding that was fake news. Motorists using the dilapidated Moi South Lake Road were also forced to seek alternative routes after its sections were destroyed. 

A motorist Francis Karanja said gushing waters had flooded the area and swept off the tarmac exposing motorists to danger.    

In Nyando, the government said it would build dykes along River Nyando to prevent perennial floods in the area.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said dykes are a long lasting solution and will prevent people living in the prone flood areas from suffering.

Speaking at Ombaka Primary School while distributing non-food items to the victims yesterday, Wamalwa said the government would manage overflows countrywide in order to lessen the suffering of Kenyans who have lost property.

“We will ensure that untold suffering by our people due to floods is never replicated, as government we will build barrages to prevent more water runoffs,” said the CS. - Reporting by Wangari Njuguna, Clement Kamau, Kirera Mwiti, Noah Chepleon and KNA

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