BIBLICAL RAINSTORM DROWNS CITY
A downpour lasting not more than an hour yesterday, admittedly as heavy as not seen in a long time, managed to drown sections of Kampala once again, bringing traffic to a standstill at the crucial bottleneck entry to the Central Business District at ‘Clock Tower’ and in many other parts of the city. This affected traffic to and from the airport too, delaying passengers trying to reach the airport for their flights while others had to wait for the floods to clear before they could reach their hotels or business appointments.
Shops were flooded in low lying areas like Bwaise as were residential houses while blocked drainages, full of compacted mud and muck, did not allow water to drain off as is should have been.
Two issues sprang to mind promptly, one the task of the new city administration to keep drainages cleared and free of blockages at all times AND to improve rubbish collection and cleaning of the city on a daily basis to combat the city’s waste being swept into drainages and eventually end up in Lake Victoria, polluting it ever more.
The other task for government is to restore wetlands and evict those who encroached on them. NEMA, now under a new Executive Director, should pull out the demarcation maps of wetlands and swamps in and around Kampala and begin a deliberate effort to ‘clean them up’. These important drainage areas between Kampala’s many hills have a crucial function, to soak up rain, absorb downpours like seen yesterday and eventually release ‘filtered’ water into the lake as it was in the old days. Now however, wetlands are few and far between and those which still exist are being encroached under the cover of darkness every night, with lorry load after lorry load of murram being deposited to create landfills at one site while across the city floods increase every time the heavens open.
Environmental degradation, under the pretext of ‘progress and development’ is like cutting one’s own legs off and creating a miserable living environment for the next generations of Kampaleans, and ironically, the big Range Rovers and other luxury cars of those responsible are equally stuck in the floods and resulting traffic jams as the little Toyota’s of the ‘small people’. A recent article here on the situation at the Lutembe Bay, a Ramsar Site under as much assault as the city’s wetlands and swamps, outlined the dangers of just ‘letting go’ and our environmental watchdogs abdicating their duties. Yesterday, in the aftermath of the massive rainstorm which lashed the city, the fallout was there for all to see, so this correspondent begs to ask the question which was on many Kampalean’s mind when they were faced to wade in knee deep floods to cross roads – when finally is action being taken? Does it take the President’s convoy to be stuck again in the such floods, as was the case two years ago along Entebbe road, to get those responsible kicked into shape and prodded into action?
Watch this space.