Car caught in Kampala flash floods, washed away within minutes

Saturday September 14 2019
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Two people are said to have survived drowning after the car they were travelling in plunged off the road and sunk into flash floods in Namasuba off Entebbe road. PHOTOS BY EVE MUGANGA

Severe weather in Kampala caused flash floods that swept away a man's car.
Two people are said to have survived drowning after the car they were travelling in plunged off the road and sunk into flash floods in Namasuba off Entebbe road.
The car was reportedly swept away in flash floods following the Saturday morning downpour.

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Two people are said to have survived drowning after the car they were travelling in plunged off the road and sunk into flash floods in Namasuba off Entebbe road. PHOTOS BY EVE MUGANGA

Areas of Namasuba and other Kampala suburbs like Bwaise are prone to flash floods whenever it rains.
The heavy rains like that of Saturday morning usually cause serious damage as homes and roads are often flooded.
Often times, some residents are seen using pumps to drain water from their compound.

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Kampala Capital City Authority plans to build seven major channels to improve drainage in the city.
Mr Erias Lukwago, the Kampala Lord Mayor, in May this year said a Shs800 billion city drainage master plan had been approved.


  • Why Kampala keeps flooding

    Thursday March 08 2018


    Kampala- Residents scramble to cross the road by a meticulously makeshift wooden bridge planted over a large stinking pool of water in Bwaise III Zone, Kawempe Division.

    Marabou storks timidly hover as some bare-chested children wade through the stagnant water to collect scrap for sale. The pool of water emerged just a couple of days ago after the skies furiously opened, causing untold damage.

    Bwaise, which slightly lies above the drainage channel on the Northern Bypass, has always been an area prone to flooding.

    The ramshackled housing units around this place always fall prey to the brunt of this natural calamity whenever there is a heavy downpour.

    “I have lived in this place for one decade now and this is how the situation has been like despite pledges by authorities to improve the situation. The situation becomes worse when water spills in the house, leaving us stranded the whole night,” recounts Ms Caroline Nabagala.

    The emotive single mother of two says she would have relocated to a better place but she is constrained by money. The harrowing tales of other residents in the vicinity are eye-popping.
    Bwaise is just a tip of the iceberg of the places affected by persistent flooding in Kampala, putting authorities in the spotlight for failing to address the issue.

    During the rainy season, traders, motorists and other city residents are not spared either, causing financial losses.

    Affected areas
    City suburbs such as Kasubi, Katanga, Kisenyi, Nalukolongo, Kabuusu, Katwe, Namungoona, and Kinawataka among others are some of the most affected places.

    Other flooding-prone areas in the city include Queen’s Way, Ssebaana Kizito Road (Former Nakivubo Mews), Kabuusu junction, Jinja Road roundabout and Kyambogo-Banda, among others.
    The previous floods have left dozens dead.

    Since its establishment in 2011, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has upgraded a number of drainage channels to divert floods. However, the problem seems far from over.

    Dr Najib Lukooya Bateganya, the KCCA director for environment and sanitation, says although there are primary drainage channels in place, these need to be complemented with secondary drainages to reduce the volume of water that is accommodated by the former.

    “The problem is that we have the main drainages, which are at times overpowered by the heavy run-off waters. These main channels such as Nakivubo ought to be helped by the small drainages to ease the flow. What we are now doing is upgrading more drainages to help the main ones, so that we can get rid of the problem of persistent flooding,” he says.

    However, Dr Bateganya notes that the public has always let down KCCA in its bid to fight flooding because they dump waste in the drainages, which triggers backflow of water.

    Public blamed
    “That has been our biggest challenge as authorities because the public hasn’t complied with regulations. For instance, when you walk around, you will see plastics and other waste dumped in drainages, which is very absurd,” he says.

    He says they are engaging city leaders to sensitise people about keeping drainages free of waste.
    Dr Bateganya further attributes the flooding challenges in Kampala to encroachment on wetlands, which, he says, are supposed to be catchment areas.

    Currently, many factories and houses have been built in wetlands despite the existing law. But authorities at times just look on because some developers wield much influence and are connected to the powers that be.
    But Mr Emmanuel Sserunjogi, the Kawempe Division mayor, says although KCCA contracted concessioners to manage waste in Kampala, they do not have the capacity to do so because of the high number of tonnes of garbage produced in the entire city.
    A statutory audit report released by Mr Moses Bwire, the KCCA director for internal audit, poked holes in the operations of the contracted garbage collection companies over incompetence.
    This implies that residents are compelled to dump garbage anywhere because the services are hardly accessible.

    To reduce flooding, Mr Sserunjogi reveals that he has embarked on a campaign in the entire division to clean all the drainage channels to allow easy flow of water during the rainy season.

    “This is a big problem which we must collectively fight because it tarnishes the image of Kampala city. The situation is always appalling shortly after the downpour, hence exposing residents to danger. I call upon my fellow leaders to mobile, sensitise and take part in cleaning all places that block water flow,” he says.

    The lowland areas of Kampala, coupled with the poor quality soils to absorb water, Dr Bateganya says, make the city susceptible to flooding.

    Dr Amin Tamale Kiggundu, a lecturer of planning and urban development at Makerere University, says flooding is linked to climate change and changing weather patterns.

    But he attributes flooding in the city to most settlements that have been established in areas that were once wetlands or swamps. Flooding becomes inevitable whenever it rains. To mitigate this calamity, Dr Kiggundu says Kampala needs a good storm water management system, which should focus on preserving critical green spaces such as Centenary Park, protecting the wetlands from encroachment and fostering plans that aim to harvest rain water.

    Building laws
    “The building laws in the city need to change by forcing developers to leave some portion of their land unpaved so that water can just be absorbed without necessarily flowing,” he says.

    While addressing journalists on the status of city roads last week, Mr Andrew Kitaka, the KCCA director of engineering and technical services, revealed that upgrading of Kampala’s drainage channels is yet to start.

    “The study for updating of the drainage master plan for Kampala was completed in 2017. This study has provided valuable information for the planning of the required improvement of Kampala’s drainage system, the locations and extents flood prone areas as well as guidance on mitigation measures for reduction of surface run off among others,” Eng Kitaka said.

    He noted that the upgrade of these drainage channels had stalled because there was no any study on which KCCA would base on to commence construction works.

    Currently, KCCA is constructing city roads and upgrading drainage channels in all the five divisions to improve urban mobility and reduce flooding. The five-year project is being funded by the World Bank.

    [email protected]

  • KCCA develops master plan to curb city flooding

    Thursday June 07 2018


    KAMPALA- Whenever the heavens open, Kampala City grounds to a halt as a result of flooding. The water volumes increase, turning a small stream of water into flash floods that sweep everything in its path downstream, causing disruptions and destruction.

    Several city shops close, the traffic gridlock intensifies, houses especially in the city slums are washed away, others are submerged in water and sometimes lives are lost as a result of drowning.
    With encroachment on the city’s water catchment areas such as wetlands and green spaces by developers, flooding has become inevitable.

    The existing drainage channels in the city has not helped either because some of it does not have the capacity to carry the big volumes of water.

    Flooding is one of the challenges city authorities are grappling with and majority of people blame it on the poor city physical planning.

    Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is now updating the city’s drainage master plan to try to combat the situation.
    The plan which was updated in 2017 is expected to be tabled before the KCCA council before it is implemented.

    According to KCCA, the aim of updating the 2003 drainage master plan was to develop a fresh solution for storm water drainage in the city that reflects the current socio-economic and drainage challenges.

    One of the objectives of the 2003 drainage master plan was to construct tributaries into Nakivubo drainage channel.
    However, with increased developments and some changes in the city’s physical planning, the plan outlived its usefulness.

    Causes of flooding
    Kampala’s drainage is mainly through eight primary channels. These include: Lubigi, Nakivubo, Kinawataka, Nalukolongo, Kansanga and Ggaba, Mayanja/Kaliddubi, Nakelere/Nalubaga, and Walufumbe and Mayanja North. These are served by numerous secondary and tertiary systems.

    But human settlements and industrial development have since extended from the many hills to the lower lying areas on the banks of the drainage channels, which are part of wetlands.

    Dr Micheal Kiiza, KCCA’s manager for drainages, says the updated master plan is aimed at integrating flood and water quality management.

    “Other objectives of the plan are to integrate natural environment, system drainage, infrastructure development control issues and overall planning issues into a cohesive city-wide strategy for drainage development that minimises the impacts of flooding,” he says.

    Dr Kiiza adds that the stages in preparing the master plan included, among others socio-economic analysis, status of the drainage system, proposed flood mitigation interventions, structural interventions and non-structural interventions.

    “For instance the plan involved assessing the socio-economic conditions of households living in the areas adjacent to the primary and secondary drainage channels, and identifying the drivers and impact associated with storm water management and drainage condition in the city,” he said.

    Currently, the frequency of flooding has increased due to increased runoff caused by land-use changes in the catchment areas and reduction of the buffer capacity of wetlands due to encroachment.

    Although developers ought to ensure compliance with the physical planning laws, sources at KCCA say they are unable to prosecute those who violate the rules because some of them are influential people in government.

    “But even then, we can’t supervise the whole city and some developers erect structures during night hours. By the time we learn of it, buildings are up hence demolishing them becomes an uphill task as such people will use all systems to fail us,” a source says.

    Further still, the surging urban population is a big challenge to the city authority’s effort to mitigate flooding.
    For instance statistics from the 2014 National Population Census show that Kampala has a day population of 4.5 million and a resident population of 1.5 million people.

    However, 60 per cent of them reside in city slums, among which are catchment areas.
    And when it rains, the water which would have been absorbed by the catchment areas makes a backflow and starts flooding.

    Garbage disposal is poor in such areas. Many slum residents dump garbage in drainage channels because they do not have money to pay for collection of waste.

    Under the engineering budget, KCCA will construct and improve roads in the city and also improve the drainage system to mitigate occasional flooding.

    Dr Kiiza says KCCA has successfully managed to maintain 165km of drainage channels in Kampala by using both manual and mechanised methods.

    The maintenance works, Dr Kiiza says, include dredging, widening and silt removal from drains and site.
    The KCCA director of engineering and technical services, Mr Andrew Kitaka, told Daily Monitor that the upgrade of the channels had stalled because there was no study on which KCCA would base to commence the works.

    “Now that the study is ready, we are ready to start construction works. However, this will be done after we have officially unveiled the study because the upgrade has to be in line with the current road projects,” he said.

    Expert’s view
    Dr Amin Tamale Kiggundu, a senior lecturer of planning and urban development at Makerere University, says flooding is linked to climate change and changing weather patterns.
    But he attributes flooding in the city to most settlements that have been established in areas that were once wetlands or swamps.

    To mitigate this problem, Dr Kiggundu says Kampala needs a good storm water management system which should focus on preserving critical green spaces such as Centenary Park, protecting the wetlands from encroachment and fostering plans aimed at harvesting rain water.

    But planners and some KCCA officials say the new Kampala drainage master plan can only be successful when there is enough funding, and compliance with the law by the developers.

    Proposed strategies
    -Rain water harvesting.
    -Permeable surfaces to enable runoff of water.
    -Rain Gardens.
    -Green Parks and open gardens.
    -Filter strips: vegetated (usually grassy).
    -Bio-retention areas (Landscaped shallow depressions)
    -Detention ponds.
    -Retention basins and associated wetlands.

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  • Seven killed in city rain

    Monday May 27 2019

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    Kampala. Seven people died in floods in two separate incidents after walls collapsed on them during the downpour that pounded the city yesterday morning.
    Five people of the same family, including a mother and four of her children, died in Seguku on Entebbe Road when a wall fence of their neighbour collapsed during the downpour at about 5am.

    Police identified the deceased as Aisha Nassali, the mother and wife of Sheikh Adinan Mujiraneza, Prosper Adinan, Promise Adinan, Umaria Adinan and Huzaifa Muzanganda. Sheikh Mujiraneza was not in the house as he had gone for morning prayers at dawn.
    Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said the bodies were retrieved and taken for postmortem.

    “We are not looking at any offence against the owners of those perimeter walls yet. We are working with local authorities to find out whether the walls were built in accordance with the set guidelines,” Mr Owoyesigyire said.
    Ms Sarah Mugerwa, the owner of the collapsed wall fence, said she had notified the Local Council authorities about the looming danger to the bereaved family given the amount of rain water that flowed towards their house, but no action was taken.

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    Stranded. Livestock and residents in a flooded area in Lufuuka Zone in Ndejje Namasuba.

    Another incident
    “I also warned my neighbour. I had no control over his decision to vacate the place. Our land is raised but we have been experiencing flooding in the compound,” Ms Mugerwa said.
    Another fatal incident happened in Kikajjo Zone, Namasuba on Entebbe Road where a mother, Immaculate Namaganda, and her daughter only identified as Galanyi, were killed by a collapsing perimeter wall weakened by floods.

    Mr Owoyesigyire said Namaganda’s house lies in a wetland and her neighbour had blocked the drainage channel which diverted the raging water to the wall fence, which gave way.
    “Namaganda and her daughter were moving near the wall as they waited for their neighbour to unblock the channel when it collapsed on them,” Mr Owoyesigyire said.

    The floods disrupted traffic in Zzana and Namasuba in the low land separating the two suburbs on Entebbe highway. The flood water rose up to two metres high destroying life and property.
    Some urban farmers braved the raging floods to remove their chicken from their sheds and put them on the roof to save them.
    Some residents used pumps to drain the flood water from their houses while others scooped it using basins and buckets.
    Kampala Capital City Authority spokesperson Peter Kaujju said in the areas of their jurisdiction, they had tried hard to work on the drainage network, but they are challenged by encroachment on the flood plains.

    “National Environment Management Authority is the lead agency on this. In our area, many of these areas are encroached upon by people. That is why government cancelled land titles in wetlands. If the cancellations are enforced, it will help us reduce flooding in the city,” Mr Kaujju said.
    Efforts to get a comment from Mr Gerald Lumbuye, the mayor of Makindye Ssabagabo Municipality, to find out their plan to check recurrence of flooding in Namasuba and Zzana were futile. His mobile phone was unavailable.

    There have been several incidents of people dying in floods in the past but cases of collapsing wall fences have not been common.
    Many people build perimeter walls which are as high as three metres to prevent criminals from easily accessing their premises.

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    Saving business. Poultry farmers in Zzana on Entebbe Road relocate their chicken on the roof after the floods.

    The wall fence are also often erected on the boundary line of their plots.
    The National Physical Planning standards and guidelines by the Ministry of Lands of 2011 state that a boundary wall must not exceed 1.5 metres up in a high population density residential area.
    “Along the road boundaries, fences or walls must be set back one metre inside the plot to leave space for infrastructure such as water supply,” the guidelines state in part.

    Neighbours of bereved seguku family speak out

    David Tumwine: “This was obviously a wetland as you can see, the house was built below a high wall which fell on the house in the wetland.”
    Maureen Kemigabo: “Government should enforce the laws to evict all settlers on wetlands. How do you build in a swamp and you have your entire family in such a place?”

    Abdu Nsubuga: “Hajj (Sheikh Adinan Mujiraneza) is a family friend. I sold the plot next to him to someone who also sold it off. He has always wanted to sell off that land for Shs25m but the buyers were offering him between Shs18m and Shs20m which he rejected.”
    Samuel Batte: “It is the fault of the old man because there have been warning signs and he also used to see water seeping through the wall. He built in a wetland and insisted on living there.”

    Sarah Mugerwa: “I informed the area local councils about the wall weakening. It has rained here heavily four times. My home being the last towards the swamp, rain water has been using the road like a channel and it was weakening the wall which I brought to the attention of the local leaders. I also warned my neighbour but being the owner of the land, I had no control over his decision to vacate the place. Even us our land is raised but we have been experiencing flooding in the compound.”

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    Stuck. A car submerged in a compound in Lufuka, Ndejje in Namasuba.

    In September 2011, Rachael Omuntu, an employee of Barclays Bank, and a rider, who was carrying her on a motorcycle, were carried away by flood water when they fell in a trench near Muteesa I Road in Kampala. In March 2016, a woman was swept by flood water in Kyambogo and her body was recovered at Jambo Motors near Jinja Road.

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  • City flood victims count losses

    Monday May 27 2019


    Kampala- Residents affected by the Sunday morning downpour that triggered devastating floods in various parts of the city spent yesterday scooping or draining out water from their submerged houses.

    Mr Stephen Kibuuka, a resident of Lufuka Zone in Entebbe, used a pump to drain out the water but his efforts were frustrated.
    He said water from neighbours’ houses kept filling his low-lying compound.

    “We have failed to access the house. Yesterday (Sunday), we had to set up a bonfire and sleep outside. I do not expect to sleep in the house until Wednesday at the earliest,” Mr Kibuuka said.

    When this newspaper revisited the flooded homes, most of the affected residents were still removing property from their houses and cleaning up.

    Mr Isaac Kayondo, a teacher at Martyrs High School Zzana, said he lost all his beddings, electronics and vital documents.
    “It was extremely inundating. The water levels were halfway the sitting room wall. My daughter, who had a child, had to leave because she could not stand the mess,” he said.

    Mr Richard Kanyike, who had to spread chicken on the roof of his brooder on Sunday, said he lost more than 1,200 birds.
    “I had more than 2,000 birds but I am now left with about 600. We had to bury some birds, the neighbours took away others. All the beddings are gone, the electronics were destroyed. I lost more than Shs10m,” he said.

    Asked about the extent of the damage, Mr Isma Tabalanule, the councillor for Makindye East, said they are not sure about the number of those affected, but added that they have always warned them against staying in wetlands.

    “People do not listen to orders. They build in swamps, others have built on the drainage channels. Even when we want to unblock the drainage, we do not have where to pass or dump the silt,” he said in a telephone interview.

    City plan

    Mr Erias Lukwago, the Kampala Lord Mayor, said they have a city drainage master plan which requires about Shs800b that was approved last week. He said the money would be used to construct seven major channels in the city, including Lubigi, Nakivubo, Kinawataka, Kansanga, Nalukolongo, Ggaba, Nalubaga, Walutumbe, Mayanja, Kalidubbi and Mayanja North.
    Mr Lukwago said although the World Bank has already provided the money, government is yet to provide funds to compensate the project affected persons.

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  • Kampala at risk of flooding as investor takes over Lubigi

    Sunday July 14 2019


    Kampala- Areas surrounding Wakiso, Mpigi and Kampala districts could become prone to more devastating flooding after Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) confirmed the giveaway of Lubigi wetland, one of the top flood guards around the area.

    Part of Lubigi, northwest of Kampala, has already been fenced off by a foreign “investor,” KCCA said.

    “There is a hoarding being erected on property near the water treatment plant. The owner intends to put a warehouse and has the approved plans from KCCA,” Mr Peter Kaujju, the KCCA spokesperson, said on Friday.

    The area is opposite the National Water and Sewerage Cooperation treatment plant and measures more than an acre (equivalent of a football pitch or more).

    Mr Wilberforce Wanyama, the wetlands and aquatic specialist at ministry of Water and Environment, also confirmed that the investor had been issued with an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA ) permit which authorises them to build in the wetland.

    “They have acquired the Environment Impact Assessment from Nema [National Environment Management Authority]. The EIA was issued this year according to information we have here,” Mr Wanyama said.

    However, the Nema executive director, Dr Tom Okurut, denied issuing such a permit, saying they had not authorised the development in such a critical area that shields Bwaise, Namugoona and Busega, among other areas from flooding.

    “Nema has not given that fenced wetland to anyone. We have neither approved it...Instead the actors have been required to remove their fence.Please check with KCCA for any approval of development plan,” Dr Okurut, who was out of the country last week, responded in a text message.

    When Mr Wanyama was informed that that Nema had denied issuing the EIA clearance, he said they needed to cross-check again to establish the validity of the EIA certificate.

    Section 36 of the National Environment Act provides for protection of wetlands and prohibits any person from reclaiming, erecting or demolishing any structure that is fixed in, on, under or above any wetland.

    The swampy papyrus Lubigi wetland has, in recent years come under severe pressure from human encroachment.
    In 2011, people claiming to be army veterans attempted to settle there but were stopped and evicted.

    In 2013, a group of traders under Uganda Patriotic Voluntary Organisation started constructing stalls in the wetland, claiming they had authorisation from State House but authorities later evicted them.

    In 2016, Nema officials destroyed several crops such as cassava, potatoes, maize and sugarcane established.

    About Lubigi
    Lubigi wetland retains and controls floods in and around Wakiso and Mpigi districts.

    The wetland starts around Kisaasito in the north, stretching westwards, passing through Bwaise and Kawaala, then straddles southwards through Busega. The swamp has feeder channels on Kampala–Mityana road towards Buloba, Kampala–Masaka road towards Kyengera, Kampala–Hoima road towards Nansana and Sentema Road that stretches from Mengo to Sentema.

    Its destruction means areas in the cattle corridor districts of Nakasongola and Luweero and beyond may not have water since some rivers to the districts start from the wetland.

    The destruction of Lubigi is not an isolated incident. Many wetlandse have been destroyed to pave away for different activities, including agriculture, industries, roads, settlement among others. Uganda is left with less than 10 per cent of original wetland cover yet the swamps contribute significantly to rainfall formation and water purification.

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