SECOND FLOODS IN A WEEK SHOWS THE ROT IN DRAINAGE SYSTEMS
Kampala is flooded was the essence of communications from the city for the second time within a week, when thunderstorms of biblical proportions his the Ugandan capital and the skies opened up, causing metre deep floods and worse within an hour. Low lying areas, reclaimed wetlands and former swamps, were filling up fastest, showing the people who built houses into these sensitive areas what fools they were to ignore advice to stay out of wetlands. The famous Clock Tower roundabout and entrance into the main Central Business District was flooded once again, as were sections of the Entebbe road, where drainage channels are clogged up with discarded plastic bags, making it impossible for water to drain off and flooding surrounding areas. Here travelers trying to get to the airport were reportedly stranded and subsequently missed their flights, as were arriving passengers from the airport trying to reach their hotels stuck in the murky waters, often so high that it was leaking into their transfer vehicles while attempting to get to their hotels.
Medical concerns have been voiced immediately by NGOs and health staff that many of the wells, used by people in particular in slum areas, where no or little piped water is available, were flooded and contaminated leading to the risk of the outbreak and spread of disease.
The rains, unusually heavy once again and a reminder of the ongoing climate change, are also causing further crack on the slopes of Mt. Elgon where a rift has opened up in recent years and continuously grown wider, now at some places almost two feet wide. Deforestation, caused by illegal squatters, is to blame here but generally, flash floods have become more common in rivers and streams due to often illegal and indiscriminate felling of trees along river banks and catchment areas. Clearing of forests for the making of charcoal too have been cited as a major reason for the continuous deforestation in the country and a toothless National Forest Authority, emancipated by the political masters and drowned in controversies, seems unable to fully execute its mandate as required under the law.
A timely reminder how much worse all this could become, should the plans of the powers that be to hive off over 7.000 hectares of prime tropical rainforest at Mabira come to reality, as the planned sugar cane plantations would barely hold a fraction of the rainwater the forest now absorbs.
Floods in Kampala, the price we pay for poor city management, intolerable absence of regular clearance and cleaning of drains by the city council and the environmental sins of our fathers coming home to haunt us.
While massive loss of property was reported thankfully no lives were lost, or reported lost at the time of going to press.