As the English man once said, fool me once the joke is on you, fool me twice the joke is on me.This perfectly applies to every Kenyan who is furious over te heavy showers that we have witnessed for the better part of the month of March. It seems the month of March is all about marching away from the heavy rains.
Rain is good no one can dispute that, unless you are an alien of which I believe aliens love rains too. We have been praying for it and our prayers seems to have been answered tenfold.
As I write social media is awash with memes of floods from an advisory from a guy who claims to be the chairman of the short people in Kenya advising the vertically challenged people to take caution of the floods as they are easy victim to floods, to sea estate that mushroom immediately the rains pour. Besides the humor do we not think that floods should be a thing of the past now that we have been fallen victims every time?
On Thursday media reports indicate seven people died as a result of floods, among them pupils who were heading home from school and other people who were going about their daily business. Infrastructure like roads and building have collapsed as a result of the heavy rains countrywide.
I remember the former president Moi championing on the construction of gabions to fight soil erosion or as it was called in Swahili `mmonyonyoko wa udongo’, what happened to such conservation initiatives?
Poor planning by greedy authorities in urban areas has resulted to development of high-rise estates in places that should be left off for the water drainage systems, that’s why people living in luxurious apartments have not been spared with flash floods reclaiming what was their path down stream.
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I visited a close friend of mine some weeks back and a downpour began before I left, as I sheltered there innocently, water started gushing in from the door. I am a bit embarrassed to say it was a mixture of raw sewage and rain water, i had to join hands with them as we ushered the toxic water out of their house for almost 2 hours, what an odd job for a visiting fellow!
Time and time the discussion regarding our urban drainage systems always comes up, but after the rains fade away, we shy away from the same. Its simple, we need to loose the large appetite for land that should be left for this kind of emergencies.
The city center is impassable even when it rains for 20 minutes because our drainage systems are clogged, thanks to the County government. Streets look like a wasteland after downpours because we have failed to collect garbage.
Just this week Embakasi Girls’ School had to be closed indefinitely, after the entire school was flooded courtesy of the informal settlements at Mukuru kwa Njenga that have hived off the river. When the river swells everything comes to a halt except the flooding water.
The issue of poor drainage systems needs to be addressed once and for all to avoid the inconvenience it brings. The floods are not only a hazard due to drowning but also a health hazard due to contamination from open sewer lines. Over 500 slum dwellers risk being infected with cholera and related diseases due to incomplete sewer lines that sandwich the slums in Nakuru County.
The government needs to seriously consider the plight of the people that voted for them barely a year ago. It hurts to use this kind of word to emphasize why leaders should deliver to the people.
Parting shot: I being very poor in swimming, I know I am not alone in this, I am contemplating to take swimming lessons after watching a video of a fellow Kenyan fighting for his life on Nairobi River. If it was me, I could barely fight the rage of the swollen river. Everybody lets take swimming lessons, let us swim together or else we will drown like fools.
By Victor Von Njagi.