Flash floods cut off Kasese, Bundibugyo

People wade through the floods in Kasese in 2013 as they return home from their gardens near the Kasese airfield. Photo by Thembo Kahungu

Flash floods have again hit Kasese district cutting off Kasese-Fort Portal main road at Nyamwamba Bridge.

Several residents in Kasese had a sleepless night after major rivers in the district burst their banks spilling into the communities. By 2am, residents had flocked Kasese town for safety as they heard sounds of rolling stones on the slopes of Mountain Rwenzori being carried down by the bursting rivers.
The rivers that have wreaked havoc in Kasese include; Nyamwamba in Kasese town, Mubuku in Ibanda-Kyanya town council and Nyamughasana in Kyalhumba Sub County.
According to the mayor Kasese municipality, Mr Godfrey Baluku Kabbyanga, “River Nyamwamba overflew at Bunyandiko in Kilembe sub county flooding in the low land areas of the town.”
Tentatively, the entire Nyamwamba valley hosting the areas of Road Barrier, Nganji, Basecamp, Kibenge, Kisagazi and Nyakasanga are experiencing the flooding profusely. Kyanzuki Bridge on River Nyamwamba has also been swept away.
Movement to and from Kasese town has been cut off at Nganji by the flooding river. This therefore implies that people in Kilembe including patients in Kilembe main hospital are now stuck there.
In Ibanda-Kyanya town council, River Mubuku has spilled into people's houses.
According to Mr William Kambere, a resident of Ibanda II cell, several people have now fled their homes and are now encamped at Ibanda Primary School.

People staring at River Nyamughasana on Wednesday afternoon when it had started bursting the banks. Photo by Joel Kaguta

The bridge that connects Ibanda to Kachindo and subsequently to Maliba market has also been swept away.
River Kithakena in Maliba Sub County has also overflown causing flooding in the neighbouring areas of Kachindo and Maliba Trading Center.
Mr Ronald Ndyakurungi, a resident of Kyalhumba town council said people have camped at Kyalhumba trading center following the flooding of river Nyamughasana. The most affected areas are Kabingo and Kabughabugha.
According to many locals, the state of affairs in Kasese now is a repeat of the 2013 flash floods where the bursting rivers claimed seven lives and destroyed properties worth hundreds of millions of money.

Locals in Ibanda-Kyanya town council said that Bikone Primary School has been swept away by River Mubuku.

“I’m right now opposite Bikone Primary school, out of four school buildings only one is remaining” said Enid Ninsiima, our staff in Kasese.

According to Mr Bernard Masereka, a resident of Kyanya-Ibanda town council, “It has been raining heavily lately in the hills, even last night it started flooding at 2am.”

Kasese Resident District Commissioner, Lt Joel Walusimbi said at 4; 30am that the situation is still being monitored and had not ascertained the number of casualities then.

However, Mr Kibaya Onesmus the Kilembe Hospital administrator, said at about that Kilembe is still safe and dismissed allegations that patients were being evacuated.
Reports also indicate that Kyanzuki Bridge is gone and equipment of Nyamwamba Hydro, a Sir Lankan company constructing a power dam in Kilembe has been submerged.

This, however, is not the first time this happens as a similar incident happened in 2013, 2014 and in 2015. The last severe flash flooding occurred on the three main rivers; Nyamwamba, Nyamughasana and Mubuku on May 1, 2013 destroying infrastructure whose estimated value was Shs50b. All the main rivers claimed lives of over a dozen people as hundreds were sent to camps.

This disaster returned on May 8, 2014 and destroyed the main offices of Kilembe Mines and also in May 2015.

The western region National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) focal person, Mr Jeconious Musingwire, in an interview with Daily Monitor on Monday, attributed the current floods to environmental degradation.

“We are currently receiving more rainfall in the hilly and mountainous areas than in the lower lands. In the hilly areas, land has been poorly managed,” he observed.

He also explained that the steep slopes are above 60 degrees, making it unfavourable for farming.
“Whenever you attempt to cultivate on the steep slopes, there will be surface runoffs, especially during these heavy rains because of cultivation. When it rains, the bare steep slopes cannot retain the runoff and water goes into the gentle slopes, where it cannot be retained because of poor agricultural practices. It is never retained in the lower land too because they used to be occupied by wetlands, and those wetlands have been degraded,” he explained.

Meanwhile, in Bundibugyo, River Lamia at the Uganda-DR Congo has also burst its banks and spilled to communities according to the LC III chairman Busunga town council, Mr Friday Kakwanga.

“The rescue mission is being carried on by police and UPDF, so far two people have been rescued,” he said.

Captain Edwin Mawanda, the Mountain Division spokesperson says, “Security is controlling the situation at Busunga border with DR Congo to ensure social distancing as one of the measures to curb the spread of covid-19, the flooding Lamia River is the border river with DR Congo.”

Compiled by Joel Kaguta, Enid Ninsiima, Thembo Kahungu, Felix Basiime & Longino Muhindo


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