By Leopold Obi, Daily Nation/NECJOGHA
Marakwet, Kenya – The heavy rains that have been experienced in Kenya over the past three days have left at least five people dead and dozens homeless after mudslides and floods hit various parts of the country.
In Elgeyo Marakwet County, a family of four died on Thursday night when their house was destroyed by a mudslide in Turung village, Marakwet East Constituency.
And in Moyale, Adan Eden, 37 perished while trying to rescue his friend.Hussein Diba as they were crossing a flooded area between Manyatta Odha and and Elwede in Odha sub location.
Marakwet East police boss Vincent Kitili said that Titus Kiptoo, his wife Lorna and their two children were asleep in their house when it was hit by raging mud following a heavy downpour in the region. Kitili urged those in landslide-prone areas to move to safer ground.
The Red Cross regional coordinator in Moyale, Maurice Onyango, said another death had been reported on the Kenya-Ethiopia border but was yet to be confirmed.
Some 650 households have been severely affected by flooding, with thousands of livestock feared dead.
Other affected areas are Moyale, Laisamis and North Horr.
In Mandera, the swollen River Lagwarera, which originates from the Ethiopian highlands, continued to wreak havoc in the county for the second week. Major roads were rendered impassable, disrupting public transport services to Takaba town in Mandera West and Elwak in Mandera South.
River Lagwarera also caused chaos in Lamu County, where more than 1,000 residents, including schoolchildren and security personnel in Boni Forest, were swamped after it burst its banks.
Since Wednesday, residents of Bodhei, Mangai, Milimani, Mararani and Bar’goni villages, inside Boni Forest were flooded while some bridges on the Hindi-Kiunga road were washed away, paralysing transport services between Lamu West and Lamu East.
Buses plying the Mandera-Nairobi route through Wajir were forced to exchange passengers at Kotulo area in Mandera South.
“Our buses cannot cross the fast moving waters,” said Mohamed Bardad, the chairman of Mandera Bus Owners Association.
Flooding has created a business opportunity for locals as those seeking to cross the river have to pay to be carried across.
“We have locals with makeshift boats at Kotulo charging up to Sh1,000 per person just to cross the section to catch a bus on either side,” said Mr Abdikadir Osman.
To leave or to enter Takaba town, one is charged between Sh500 and Sh1,000 to use makeshift boats to cross the river.
Farmers along River Daua in Mandera are also counting losses after it burst its banks, flooding many farms. Among the crops destroyed are onions, watermelons, kales and tomatoes.
The news came as the Kenya Red Cross and the Meteorological Department warned of more heavy rains during the Mashujaa Day weekend. Areas likely to be affected are Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa — which is set to host the national Mashujaa Day celebrations tomorrow.
In the coastal city, heavy rains have exposed the poor drainage in the county, making some roads impassable. The most affected areas are Kiembeni, Bamburi Utange and Shimanzi.
Transport was paralysed and commuters connecting to the western part of Mombasa in Jomvu, Miritini, Magongo and Changamwe had a rough time after the Changamwe roundabout was rendered impassable.
Commuters had to use alternative means when matatus made U-turns at the road, currently under construction. As a result, fares were raised in most parts. For example, travellers from Tudor had to pay an extra Sh20 from the usual Sh30 while those from Miritini had to pay Sh100.
In Mwembe Tayari, a balcony of a two-storey building tumbled down, injuring one person, while in Tudor, residents raised fears after a six-foot concrete wall crumbled.
Yesterday, Mombasa county officials were trying to clear the clogged up drainage in Bamburi and Kisauni. County health chief officer Aisha Abubakar advised residents to drink clean water, make their own food and move away from swampy areas.
In Kwale, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) issued an advisory to motorists using the Likoni-Lunga Lunga Highway to exercise caution while driving.
“Heavy trucks plying the highway have been rerouted to the Lunga Lunga-Kwale-Kombani Road following damage to a culvert,” read a statement from the authority.
The Marenje bridge was partly swept away and the Ramisi bridge faces the same fate.
In its weekly report, the Kenya Meteorological Department stated that rainfall intensities are likely to increase over parts of the northeast, the highlands east and west of the Rift Valley, the southeast lowlands and the coast.
“Residents are advised to be on the lookout for potential flash floods. Flood waters may suddenly appear even in places where it has not rained heavily and can be deeper and faster than they look,” said Met director Stella Aura.
The department and Kenya Red Cross have mapped the counties likely to experience heavy rains as Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale, Meru, Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Nyeri, Kiambu, Nandi, Vihiga, Siaya, Kericho, Migori, Kisii, Busia, and Homa Bay.