At least nine people have died in massive destruction caused by torrential rains that continued to pound many parts of the country yesterday.
Six people died in Mwingi, two in Kajiado and one student in Mai Mahiu, Naivasha, as several roads were cut-off and cars submerged in floodwater.
Meanwhile, Mombasa Road was closed last night after Athi River Bridge was submerged. Traffic was diverted to Kangundo Road.
The Meteorological department advised residents of urban and low-lying areas to be on the lookout for floods as it warned of more rain in the coming days.
“Residents should not attempt to walk in moving water or drive through since the water can be deeper and more fast moving than it appears. Keep to safe ground until flooding subsides. Drivers should avoid speeding because the roads become slippery and visibility also reduces when heavy rains occur,” Meteorology director Peter Ambenje said.
In a heavy rain advisory released yesterday, Ambenje cautioned residents living in lightning prone areas to avoid sheltering under tall trees or next to grilled windows in houses or walking in the open fields when it is raining.
In Nairobi, several parts of the city – the CBD, roads and estates – were flooded yesterday morning, following a heavy downpour. Residents blamed the county for the floods, adding that the county government had failed to unclog the drainage system, despite several warnings by the Met of the expected heavy rains.
County secretary Leboo Morintat, however, attributed the floods to loose soils, dry leaves and branches being swept into the drainage system.
In Narok, a student was swept away on Wednesday as rainwater cut off a section of the busy Mai Mahiu-Narok road.
In Kajiado a pupil from Kiserian drowned while crossing a stream. The body of a man was also recovered on the Enkirgirri River.
Kajiado county commissioner David Kipkemei advised parents to stop sending their children to school until the rains subside.
The floods have also cut off the Isinya/Kiserian road in the Birika area, following heavy rains that started on Wednesday. Mashuuru town, down the road, was by yesterday marooned in floods while a major eatery in Isinya town, Miamis Hotel, was sitting in floodwater by midday Thursday.
Those who died in Mwingi Central were also swept away by rivers. They included a woman and a seven-year-old boy who died while trying to cross the Ikinye River in Mwingi, and a man who drowned in the Tyaa River.
Yesterday, three people were consumed by the Enziu River as two others survived to swim across the river. The five were crew of a lorry transporting charcoal from the Yatwa area of Nuu division to Nairobi.
Mwingi Central police boss John Nyamu has called upon residents to avoid crossing the rivers when it is raining and also to be careful about water levels.
In Nairobi, the rains that started around 6.30am flooded major streets and avenues, causing heaving heavy traffic gridlock and virtually bringing business in the city to a standstill most of the morning.
Moi Avenue, Muindi Mbingu Street, Ronald Ngala Street, Haile Selassie Avenue, Tom Mboya Street, Racecourse Road, Temple Road, and Kimathi Street were flooded.
Outside the CBD, Ojijo Road, Brookside Drive, Peponi Road, Lang’ata Road, Enterprise and Lusaka roads were turned into rivers.
Along Ojijo Road in Westlands, cars were pictured nearly morning submerged in storm waters. The situation was similar along Peponi Road and Brookside Drive, where the waters completely cut off the roads.
The Thika Superhighway, Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway, Jogoo Road and Limuru Road were also affected.
In Nairobi West, Lang’ata Road was flooded at the T-Mall junction. The area has been classified as one of the flood ‘hotspots’ because of buildings built on the riverbanks.
Motorists, some of whom had left their homes as early as 6am, were stuck in jams up to 10am.
Following the heavy rains yesterday, the National Environmental Management Authority expressed concern over the extent of the plastic bottle menace, which was most evident during the flash floods witnessed yesterday.
Nema director general Geoffrey Wahungu said, naturally, floods clean up the environment and the plastic debris being witnessed in parts of the country following the heavy rains should heighten the effort to fight pollution from plastics.
He was speaking while visiting a section of the Nairobi River at the Kirichwa Kubwa River along St Mary’s Primary School, where large amounts of plastic bottles had been washed by floods from Kangemi in Westlands.
“We witnessed a lot of waste with the flooding experienced in sections of Mathare, Huruma, South B, even parts of South C in Nairobi,” he said.
He said Nema had agreed with county environment officers to do a cleanup of the plastic debris along the rivers next week.
“We have noticed that there is less plastic being washed ashore compared to other years. Nonetheless it is still a lot and significant.”
He warned citizens against crossing flooded sections where water is flowing fast and urged those living in flooding- and landslide-prone areas like Murang’a, Nyeri and Kisii to be on the lookout and evacuate to avoid loss of life.
Dr John Chumo, the secretary of the National Environmental Complaints Committee, attributed flooding in towns to poor drainage. He said most towns lack serious physical planning and monitoring.
“We have roads and drainage systems being built in places they are not meant to be. This is because there are so many houses being built on riparian areas so when it rains, there is a lot of runoff water,” he said.
Chumo noted that county governments, especially Nairobi, have ignored several warnings from the Met and complaints by residents.
“If nothing is done, we will continue experiencing floods, and having solid waste ending up in our rivers and water sources,” Chumo said.
Water and equipment suppliers Davis & Shirtliff also cautioned Kenyans with wells, boreholes or reservoirs of possible water contamination due to flooding.
Soource: The Star/ STAR TEAM @thestarkenya