Broken bridges, roads cut off villages in Mbale

A  woman stands outside her house in Northern City Division in Mbale City on aUGUEST 3, 2022. PHOTO | MICHEAL WONIALA

The collapse of bridges and destruction of roads in Mbale District, Bugisu Sub-region, has hindered social service delivery.

Among the collapsed bridges are Mbale-Bufumbo, Namabale, Nashikasho, Namawane, Nagairrira, Busamaga, Bukhatoko, Ndohwe, Nambitsi, Namakole, and Nabuyonga. 

Roads such as Mbale-Nkokonjeru and Mbale-Bufumbo were cut off after being blocked by boulders and debris. 

A family takes shelter at Busajjabwakuba B in Northern City Division, Mbale City, yesterday. Many locals have not been able to access places such as schools and health centres since Monday. PHOTO | MICHEAL WONIALA

Other affected roads are Nashikasho–Namawane, Sakiya–Bukhatoko, Ndohwe, Nambitsi, Busaano, and Busaano-Bufoto.

The bridges and roads were destroyed after rivers Namatala, Nabuyonga, Nashibiso, and Napwoli burst their banks after a downpour that lasted for 10 hours at the weekend.

Access to social services such as healthcare, education and transportation of agricultural produce from villages has become difficult.

People search debris of a housed destroyed in Busamaga, Mbale City. Photo/Yahudu Kitunzi

Bugisu leaders say their livelihood is at stake. They have called on the government to speed up interventions ranging from sending relief food and repairing infrastructure.

Mr Simon Peter Mafabi, a businessman in Busamaga Trading Centre, said pupils and students cannot access schools in the city because Busamaga bridge collapsed.

“Most of the bridges have been washed away. Our bridge should be fixed,” he said.

The most affected wards in the city are Doko, Nabitiri, Namakwekwe, Namatala, Mutoto, Mooni, South Central, IUIU, Nabijjo, and Booma.

The floods also submerged gardens in different areas of Mbale District. Photo/Yahudu Kitunzi

In Mbale District, the most affected sub-counties are Bungokho, Bumbobi, Wanale, Budwale, and Nyondo.

Ms Angella Nakirya, a resident of Nabweya Village in Namanyonyi Sub-county,  said: “The cost of transporting produce to the market has risen because motorists use longer routes to access the city.” 

The Mbale City mayor, Mr Cassim Namugali, said: “We appeal to Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) to work on the damaged infrastructure.” 

Mr Namugali said some of the health facilities that were submerged by water  cannot provide services.

Cost of havoc

According to a comprehensive report from the Office of the Prime Minister,  29 deaths have been registered, 1,000 persons displaced, 80 houses damaged, and three health centres were affected.

The report further indicates that seven people are missing, nine cars were swept downstream, and about 800 households have been affected by floods.

Weather forecast by the Uganda National Meteorological Authority for Elgon region for the month of August has projected enhanced rain with the possibility of more floods.

Mr Abdallah Magambo, the deputy speaker of Mbale City and the councillor for Northern City Division, said Namakole bridges, which connect Nakaloke and Namanyonyi Sub-county are no more.

“Rural communities have been cut off. The more the government delays to respond, the more the people suffer,” he said.

Mbale Northern City Division MP Seth Wambede Kizangi Massa said the most affected areas are Northern City Division, Industrial City and Bungokho Sub-county.

“Our historical bridges have been destroyed, we are asking the government to intervene,’’ Mr Wambede said.

Mr Mafabi Muhammed, the chairperson of Mbale District, said the floods have made several areas inaccessible.

The acting commissioner for relief, disaster preparedness and management, Mr Catherine Ahimbisibwe, said national water structures were also washed away with about 400,000 people affected.

“Mass soils and boulders continued to cover the distribution lines with some being washed away,” she said.

The Unra spokesperson, Mr Allan Ssempebwa, said their team is monitoring the situation.

“Our maintenance teams are mobilising the culverts to repair broken bridges,” he said.

In Bududa District, a landslide occurred in Bushika Sub-county, displacing a handful of locals after a downpour on Tuesday. It also destroyed crops and livestock.

Mr Samson Natsamwa, the deputy chief administrative officer, said the landslide affected the villages of Sihamosi Bunasa, Bukitongo, and Nagwe but no life was lost.

He called upon the government to resettle people living in disaster-prone areas to save lives.