Rain in Africa – both a blessing and a curse


(Posted 13th May 2015)

Nairobi County Governor Kidero, already fallen out of favour with many voters over grandstanding and poor service delivery, apart from being blamed for the perennial traffic jams into and out of the city, was yesterday faced with another tsunami of discontent on social media. A rainstorm of biblical proportions offloaded its wet cargo over the city of Nairobi and several areas including key traffic junctions and intersections swiftly flooded. Reports up to now speak of at least 10 people drowned, eight of them as the wall of a mosque collapsed when the foundations were weakened by the excess water. Nairobians let fly on Twitter and Facebook, venting their anger on a hapless county government which failed to attend to blocked drainages in good time and harshly laid into Kidero with their comments, more so when it became known that their Governor had flown to Doha instead of being in the city and directing search and rescue missions for missing people and be on call to decide instantly on the allocation of resources, personnel and equipment to reopen drainage channels and assist victims.

(Picture courtesy of Anne Muthai’s Facebook page where she offloaded her anger)

The mainstream media too had a field day with the Governor and his administration and the Kenyan daily newspapers were full of readers’ comments and scathing attacks on what may called pathetic service levels by the country government but some TV stations then came under attack too for oversimplifying the causes of the flood and making a reporting mess of it.

Nairobi City County PR staff and spin doctors promptly portrayed the visit as one dedicated to seeking funding from the State of Qatar to improve the city’s drainage systems but #KOT’s, short for Kenyans on Twitter were in no mood to listen to what one termed ‘utter rubbish’ in a communication to this correspondent.

Also under fire came Chinese contractors as sections of the new Thika Highway were flooding as was the intersection near the Museum Hill, leaving motorists stranded for at times several hours. Again, comments about their workmanship were scathing and took no prisoners as people’s cars got submerged and they barely escaped with their lives, often wet to the skin.

The Kenya Red Cross Society immediately deployed their full resources to assist victims of the flooding and extended emergency services to those stuck in deep water as citizens waited for the city emergency department to swing into action.

(Pictures from Jackie Arkle’s FB page courtesy of Yoni Were Wasombo and Sanda Ojiambo)

City floods are a known phenomenon among East African countries with regular floods experienced in Kampala, in Dar es Salaam and now also in Nairobi, often claiming lives and destroying property worth multi millions in US Dollar terms. Notably though have none of the city authoritie

s found a solution and drainage channels are often only cleared after the floods occurred, silting up thereafter again until the next disaster strikes. City authorities regularly blame their citizens for indiscriminate dumping of rubbish, yet equally provide inadequate collection services as available funds are often misappropriated or directed into white elephant prestige projects instead of expanding grass root services. Disease then is often the fallout from such floods adding yet more problems to the respective city administrations and alienating them even more from citizens who also constitute to a large part the electorate for the next election cycle.

Condolences are extended to the families and friends of those who lost loved ones and commiseration is expressed to all those who lost property while the county government and the contractors responsible earn mega barbs.

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