Raw sewage in houses as four killed in raging city floods
At least four people, two of them children, were killed following heavy rains in Nairobi on Tuesday night.
Several others were injured and property and dozens of vehicles damaged.
Police spokesperson Zipporah Mboroki said in Kayole, a woman and her three-year old son were swept away and their bodies retrieved downstream. The body of a man was also found at the same spot Wednesday morning.
In Ruaraka, an eight-year-old boy was killed when floods brought down the walls of their house. Ms Joyce Andeso said her son, David Karanja, was in the house when water flooded the house, sweeping him and some household items away.
Several vehicles also stalled on Mombasa Road, causing a traffic jam while on Spine Road in Kayole, a motorist narrowly escaped death when his vehicle was swept away.
Criminals took advantage of the jams to rob motorists of cash, phones and other valuables.
Urban floods have turned the lives of Nairobi residents into a nightmare as they are now more likely to wade through flooded filthy streets to get to the supermarket or bus stages.
With heavy rains falling in the capital for the past three weeks, the drainage system seems to have simply given up and can no longer cope.
The weatherman forecasts the rains will continue this month, a prediction Nairobians are cursing.
“Shall we continue wading through flooded streets in the central business district whenever there is a downpour?” Ms Mary Wangechi, who runs an M-Pesa shop on Moi Avenue asks.
Shoe shiner Bernard Kishore happily says business has improved tremendously since the rains started pounding the city last month.
Nairobi County Transport Executive Mohamed Abdullahi says the drainage system was designed during the colonial times when the population was much smaller.
But it is not only in the city centre where residents are cursing the rains. In informal settlements like Kibera, Mathare and Kawangware, where sewage systems do not exist, raw human waste is swept away by flood waters and deposited at people’s doorsteps.
This happened in Imara Daima Estate last month when residents, to their utmost horror, found their houses flooded with human waste.
NO LASTING SOLUTION
Save for a National Youth Service (NYS) team that has been unclogging waterways, the Nairobi County government seems to have no lasting solution.
It has, however, hired a group of youth, who like the NYS, are unblocking water channels and clearing overgrown grass along roads.
Governor Evans Kidero says the county government is appealing for funds from donors to repair the drainage system. He says this was one of the issues he raised on his visit to Qatar last month.
However, Dr Kidero, who was attending a forum on free trade development in the Qatari capital Doha, had to abruptly cut short his trip after the Mutu-ini-Ngong River burst its banks, causing massive flooding downstream.
County Executive for Land, Housing and Physical Planning Tom Odongo says City Hall cannot control the proliferation of high-rise buildings in the water catchment areas of Ngong in Kajiado County and in Kiambu.
“This is one of the causes of our problems as water in Ngong, where forests have been cleared, flows directly into the city,” he said.
NO SEWAGE SYSTEM
He cites Mutui-ini-Ngong River, whose source is the Kikuyu and Limuru Hills in Kiambu County. The river cuts through Ngong Forest in Kajiado County and flows through Kibera, which has no sewage or solid waste disposal system.
“The river sweeps along plastic bags and other solid waste that ends up blocking waterways,’ he said.
When it burst its banks last month, it caused massive flooding in downstream areas like Nyayo High Rise in Mbagathi, NHC Nairobi West Estate and at South C Shopping Centre.
A mosque wall collapsed in Fuata Nyayo Estate in South B, killing 11 people.
Critics, however, blame City Hall for allowing construction on wetlands, river banks and riparian areas.
Mr John Gachora, the chairman of Dik Dik Gardens Association, a lobby group fighting to conserve Kirichwa Kubwa and Kirichwa Ndogo rivers, said City Hall caused environmental degradation in Kileleshwa and Lavington when it allowed a housing project to be established on a 7.5-acre piece of land in Kileleshwa last year.