Kenya

Six die as rivers swell after rains pound most parts of the country

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Six people died in separate incidents in Kajiado County as heavy rains fell in most parts of the country.

A matatu was swept away in Kiserian by flooded seasonal Kandisi stream, killing three passengers.

“We have been searching for the other body the whole night,” said Mr Albert Ndege, a matatu driver.

Mr Ndege said the driver of the matatu escaped death narrowly as he was trapped by a tree.

“The driver said there were four people in the vehicle at the time of the accident. He said they were waiting for the waters to subside when they were swept away,” he said.

“Three bodies, that of a child, a woman and a man, were later retrieved about two kilometres downstream,” he said, adding that one person was still missing.

A few metres away, passengers in another matatu headed to Ongata Rongai from Kiserian are lucky to be alive after the vehicle was swept away by the flood waters. However, gabions in River Lemalepo blocked the vehicle from being carried further downstream.

Two vehicles were damaged when the floods swept them away for half a kilometre from Magadi Road.

Fences around houses built near streams were washed away and crops damaged.

In Magadi, 40-year-old Mwangi Wamae drowned as he tried to cross the swollen Entasapia river in the morning.

At Ngong, bodies of two people were found at Veterinary area. They had been carried away from an upstream location.

Kajiado North MP Joseph Manje said the problem was perennial and urged residents to take precautions.

County Senator Peter Mositet blamed poorly built bridges for the deaths.

“Last year four people died in Kandisi stream due to the floods. The remedy by the Roads ministry was not satisfactory as the same problem is back with us,” said Mr Mositet.

In Migori County, Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga said water levels in rivers Kuja and Migori had risen rapidly, raising fears of displacement and food shortages.

“We will require relief food, tents, mosquito nets and drugs if the rains continue like this,” he said.

Residents of Nyando District in Kisumu County called on the Government to build dykes and set up rescue centres.

An elder, Mr Stephen Ochieng Ondiek, said even though Special Programmes minister Esther Murugi had often told them to move to higher ground, there were no places to move to.

Mr Ondiek said the ministry, with the help of the Japanese Government, had built a rescue centre but this was inadequate as there were two toilets and a small two-room dispensary which could not accommodate everyone in the region.

“The dykes that were built by the government at River Nyando are eroded, allowing the river to quickly flood when it rains,” Mr Ondiek said.

At the Coast, the weatherman said “above normal” rainfall was received in Mombasa, Tana River and Kwale counties and predicted the pattern would continue until May.

In Mombasa, rains pounding the county from last week resulted in huge pools of water in highly populated estates such as Kisauni and Likoni due to poor drainage.

The Meteorological Department’s March-April-May forecast posted on its website said Coast and western counties would experience heavy rains.

Lamu, parts of Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale would also experience above normal rainfall, the weatherman forecast.

In Elgeyo Marakwet County, people in landslide- and mudslide-prone areas were yesterday ordered to move to safer areas to avert catastrophes.

Deputy County Commissioner Moses Lilan said the government had issued the directive at the onset of the rainy season.

“Though we might not necessarily force people to move, we expect them to think of their own safety. This is not a trivial matter. Landslides are real and memories of the time we lost 15 lives and hundreds others were displaced are still fresh in our minds,” he said.

Mr Lilan said more than 10,000 people are living in disaster-prone areas in the county and directed them to seek refuge at their relatives’ homes in higher grounds or seek alternative accommodation.

In Nyeri and Murang’a, residents in mudslide-prone areas have been warned to be on their guard. The Meteorological Department said landslides and mudslides were likely in parts of Mukurwe-ini and Murang’a.

The region’s Meteorological department head, Mr Francis Nguata, urged national disaster centres to prepare for disasters.

Mr Nguata said despite the fears the rains were good news for hydro-electricity producers as dams were filling fast.

Reported by Ponciano Odongo, Elisha Otieno, Lillian Ochieng, Philemon Suter, Philip Muyanga and James Ngunjiri