Friday May 3 2013

Floods: Kilembe hospital closes

Stranded Kasese residents stare at a road leading

Stranded Kasese residents stare at a road leading to Kilembe Hospital that washed away by floods on Wednesday. At least 190 patients at the health facility have been evacuated to other hospitals following the disaster that hit Kasese District. The hospital’s mortuary, wards and X- ray machine were destroyed. Photo by Enid Ninsiima. 

By ENID NINSIIMA & FELIX BASIIME

At least 190 patients were yesterday evacuated from Kilembe Mines Hospital following floods that ravaged Kasese District on Wednesday.

The floods destroyed most of the hospital’s vital units, forcing authorities with no option but to close it.

“195 patients have been evacuated, 50 staff units washed away, medical stores, kitchen, mortuary, paediatric ward, private wing and other equipment, including the recently acquired X- ray machine were all destroyed,” said the medical superintendent, Dr Edward Wafula.

Dr Wafula added that there was no power and water at the hospital, and that the facility will be reopened when the situation returns to normal.

The floods claimed four lives, left many residents missing and property worth billions of shillings destroyed.

But Dr Wafula, said no deaths or injuries were recorded at the hospital as ambulances from all corners of the district were seen ferrying patients to different destinations.

Three bodies have been retrieved from River Nyamwamba after they were swept away by heavy floods.

Mr Joseph Zukwa, the Red Cross Society Kasese branch chairperson, identified the bodies as those of Paddy Kalusu, a former district procurement officer, Kibusu, a primary school teacher and Kabugho.
They were all residents of Kanyaruboga village in Kilembe Sub-county. Mr Gad Baluku, a Kilembe Mines Ltd worker, is still missing.

Unknown
Many of the missing people whose number is not yet known come from Karusandara Sub-county.

Drivers plying the Fort Portal-Kasese road yesterday morning said they could not reach Kasese Town due to the debris deposited on the road by floods at Nyakasanga.

Four bridges at Katiri, Mburakasaka, Kyanzuki and Bulembia in Kilembe were all washed away.

Mr Zukwa said more than 800 people displaced from their homes have temporarily taken refuge at Kicementi near the hospital awaiting relocation to other places.

Among the stranded people are 280 students of Seeta High School, Naalya, and Kings College Budo, who were in Kasese on a study tour. Their vehicles were blocked at Kilembe after two bridges connecting the area to Kilembe Town were washed away.

After rescuing them from floods, the students were advised to walk from Kilembe to Kasese Town, about 10 kilometres away.

The acting general manager of Kilembe Mines reported that their power house, electric poles, transformers and water supply system were affected. He called for road equipment to open up some access roads to enable immediate repairs to be carried out.

Other affected areas included Maliba, Bugoye, Karusandara, Kyondo, Nyamwamba and Bulembia divisions and Bwesumbu.

1,000 affected
Kasese RDC Milton Odongo said more than 1,000 households have been affected by the disaster.

He said the district is in urgent need of relief items since nobody managed to leave their homes with any property.

Some leaders, however, blamed the disaster on human activities that have tampered with the Nyamwamba River banks, environmental degradation and poor planning of Kasese Town, among others.

By press time, the district leadership and other stakeholders, were locked up in a crisis meeting to forge a way forward and put a stop to the problem that hits the area every year. In May 2011, Kasese was hit by heavy floods.

Mr Jeconious Musingwiire, the National Environment Management Authority western region focal person, said the problem would continue.

“Kasese will be hit by floods for some time because the green cover has faded on the hills which lead to surface run-offs,” Mr Musingwiire said.

“River banks have been cultivated so the rivers burst when it rains or when there is an overflow from the snow-capped mountain.”

Mr Augustine Kooli, the district environmental officer, said the hills around the municipality have been built on which also creates more water run-offs.

“There are increased developments in the town and the hills are being built on like the Kepp Resort Hotel, on Kilembe Road, so water accumulates because of loss of tree cover,” Mr Kooli said.

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