Tuesday May 7 2013

Two more dead in fresh Kasese floods

By Enid Ninsiima, Thembo Kahungu & Stephen Otage


The skies continue to open up, wreaking havoc in Kasese District, with the latest victims of the floods being two people who were trying to fix a bridge that was washed away last week.

Yesterday’s deaths brought the total toll to eight since rains began pounding the western district last week and causing river banks to burst, unleashing raging floods on the previously calm town. The worst hit area yesterday was Maliba Sub-county, where sections of the village were submerged by floods from River Mubuku whose banks burst.

According to Mr Abraham Kihoro, a resident, two brothers; Erias Bwambale and Kighoma Masereka, were washed away as they tried to fix timber on a broken bridge that connects Kasese and Kabarole districts. “The whole village had gathered at Kyoho Bridge and wanted to replace it with a temporary foot bridge so that people transact business easily. But while we were at it, big volumes of water came gushing and swept off the two brothers,” said Mr Kihoro.

The area chairperson, Mr Constant Komu, said the bodies had been recovered, and that over 300 households were destroyed. Kakindo and Izinga villages are most affected. By press time, most of the people stranded in their submerged homes were still awaiting police and military rescue that had been promised.

Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga, who visited the flooded areas, called for more evacuation teams.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator of Disaster in the Office of the Prime Minister, Maj. Gen. J.F Oketta, has said River Sebwe that supplies water to Mubuku Irrigation Scheme has also flooded and destroyed over 600 acres of crops. By yesterday, the government had brought excavators and efforts were underway to divert the water.

Business hit
Transport between Kasese and Fort Portal town was hampered after the floods cut off the road linking the two centres. Ms Jessica Amooti, who transports sweet potatoes to Kasese from Fort Portal, said their businesses were grounded. Traders in Kassindi, the busiest market in Kasese, said they were registering losses. Mr Joromo Kathungu, a clothes’ dealer, said he had received only two customers yesterday, compared to the average of 10 he received daily before the floods happened.

Retired meteorologists return
The government has announced that it will re-engage retired meteorologists starting July 1, as it moves to establish the Uganda National Meteorology Authority. The authority which was formed by an Act of Parliament comes into force in the coming financial year in response to the increasing frequency of natural disasters like floods, droughts lightning and landslides.

Mr David Obong, the permanent secretary Ministry of Water, told journalists last evening that the growing impact of weather extremes worldwide cannot be ignored anymore because of the grave human and economic losses it causes.