Hundreds displaced as rivers burst banks, dams spill over

Monday, December 9th, 2019 00:00 |
A man is assisted to safety at Burgei trading centre in Rongai, Nakuru county.

More than 15 families were displaced and property valued at millions of shillings destroyed when Molo River burst its banks and flooded Burgei village in Rongai, Nakuru county.

Following heavy rains in Nakuru and neighbouring counties, a bridge was also swept away, cutting off an area that is home to 1,200 from Rongai town.

Janet Busienei, a mother of six, said she had lost all her household items after her home was flooded last evening.

Mary Memo, who is a mother of four, said she had also lost her household items and shop in the floodwaters. She said the village was in dire need of medical supplies. 

The most affected areas include Kinoyo, Kapnyangale, Molo Sirwe and several other villages in Mogotio sub-county and Bondeni in Eldama Ravine. 

Several tomato farms on  the banks of Molo River have also been swept away by raging waters. Molo River flows from Mau Forest Complex and drains into Lake Baringo. 

On Saturday, hundreds of residents of Mogotio town gathered to watch as the river turned into a mini lake, and threatened to sweep away the bridge that connects Baringo and Nakuru counties. 

Local leaders, including area chief Julius Kangogo, had a hectic time controlling the surging crowd. 

“We are appealing to locals to be extra vigilant because more rains have been forecast in the next few days. We don’t want to lose lives,” said Kangogo. 

At an adjacent residential estate, residents were counting losses after their houses were submerged.  “I have only managed to salvage my academic certificates and television,” said a resident.

Break banks

Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis, Mogotio MP Daniel Tuitoek and Soin MCA Irene Chebichii visited families who have been displaced by floods and called on the government and to intervene to avert a humanitarian disaster.

 On Saturday evening, Perkera River which cuts through Marigat town in Baringo county, was also on the verge of breaking its banks threatening to displace many families living in the lower areas.

Meanwhile, the Nakuru County department of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance has urged residents of Rongai, Naivasha and Gilgil sub-counties to be on high alert as dams have filled up and spilling due to heavy rains.

Department’s chief officer Ann Njenga warned that residents living along the water paths and dams should move to safer grounds to reduce destruction and loss of property and lives.

Speaking in Gilgil, Njenga said more than 24 dams in the county were already full.  She said personnel had been deployed in Rongai, Gilgil and Naivasha which, are more prone to foods.

“More than 24 dams in the county are full and over spilling I want to caution residents living along the said areas to move to safer grounds,” said Njenga, adding that  the full dams include Nyondia in Naivasha, Jika in Mbaruk and Visoi in Rongai.

“We are working to expand the waterways and ensure flooded areas in the sub-county are drained,” she said.


Gilgil Ward MCA Jane Wambui said the expansion  of waterways had gone along way in preventing flooding.

“In the past, Kikopey has been flooding after heavy rains and the move by the county to expand the waterways has changed the situation,” said Wambui.

Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui and Water Resources Authority (WRA) chair Joe Mutambu on Friday warned that most dams were almost full, posing danger to people living around them.

“Masinga Dam is only left with only 1.28 metres to fill up and with the current intensity, it might fill up by Sunday. Kiambere Dam is also likely to fill up within 48 hours,’’ Chelugui said, adding that this year’s rains were abnormally heavy.

“The public should be extremely cautious to avoid further loss of lives, destruction of property and biodiversity,” he said.

The CS urged Kenyans to heed flood alerts being issued by WRA and other agencies and move to safer grounds.

Mutambu asked dam owners to ensure they are structurally sound.

‘’We will decommission non-compliant dams,’’ he said. Authority’s CEO Mohamed Shurie urged the public to take advantage of the rains to harvest water.

His call comes a few days after Chelugui acknowledged that the government does not have the capacity to harvest rainwater.

In Murang’a county, Meteorological officer Paul Murage yesterday issued a floods alert to the people living in Ithanga, lower Gatanga as the rains persist.

Murage said there is danger of Ndakaini dam spilling over.

The officer said the situation had been made worse by Sasumwa dam spilling excess water into River Chania.

“Chania River is already swollen due to the spillage from Sasumwa and our worry is that if we get a spillage from Ndakaini dam, people living downstream might suffer” he said.

Rains persist

Murage said Ndakaini is 91 per cent full and is likely to fill up in three days. “The water volume has been rising by three per cent every day and going by our projection, it will be full by Wednesday,” he said.

Meanwhile, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria has ordered the assessment of all the dams in the area to ascertain their conditions.

The governor said out of 30 dams, only six are managed by private farms while the rest have been abandoned.

This, he said, was a recipe for disaster as most of them are already full and can spill over.

“We are sitting on a time bomb and if we are not careful things can turn ugly,” he said.

Wa Iria said a comprehensive risk analysis of all the dams and necessary precautionary measures will be taken.

The governor said an enforcement team will be dispatched to Ithanga to mobilise people to move to safer grounds, adding that the county will partner with other stakeholders to assess the damage caused by the rains.

He, however, accused the National Environment Management Authority officials of laxity. The Kenya Meteorological Department yesterday said the rains are likely to persist until the end of this month.

Director Stella Aura said the rainfall is expected to continue over several parts of the country throughout the forecast period.

“On Monday 9, several parts of the country are expected to receive moderate to heavy rainfall,” she said.

Areas around the lake region, highlands west of the Rift Valley, highlands east of the Rift Valley and North Eastern region are expected to experience heavy rains and thunderstorms.

Showers will be experienced in Lower Eastern and northern Kenya.

“The weather outlook, for December 2019 indicates that most parts of the country are likely to experience above-average rainfall. The rainfall distribution, both in time and space, is expected to be generally good.

Episodes of heavy rain are likely to continue being experienced in several parts of the country during the period,” she said in a statement.

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