Rains return with deaths, havoc

 Residents at one of the houses whose roofs were removed by a storm in Kasese District last week. PHOTO/ JEROME KULE BISTWANDE  

What you need to know:

For three weeks now, heavy rain has been pounding various districts across the country.

The onset of the second rainy season has left a heavy trail of destruction, with about 50 injured and nine people dead across the country.

Among the victims was a four-year-old Shanitah Nabagala in Najjera , Kira Municipality, Wakiso District, who lost her balance,  fell into a trench and died.

On September 10, Joshem Kasirye, 4, died after falling debris from a collapsing building hit him following a downpour at Ssanje Trading Centre, Kasasa Sub-county, Kyotera District. Two motorcycles that were parked on the verandah were also destroyed.

Mr Hassan Musooba, the Kyotera District Police Commander, said police were also investigating the engineers who built the ill-fated house.

“Yes, it rained, but it was only that building which got damaged, which points to poor workmanship. Some people construct buildings without engaging technical people,” he said.

Mr Harold Ssebudde, the Kyotera District engineer, said some people do not afollow building standards while erecting buildings.

In the central region districts of Kalungu and Bukomansimbi, 30 people got injured after a storm de-roofed houses in 14 villages on September 5. The storm also destroyed several acres of crops. In Bukomansimbi alone 70 houses were de-roofed

Ms Cissy Nalubega, a resident of Kyanakibi Village said the disaster struck when she was sleeping and her sons were listening to the radio.

Mr Mustafah Kintu, a farmer at Kyango Village said the storm destroyed his two- acre tomato garden he had planted   using borrowed money.

 “I borrowed Shs12m from the bank hoping to pay back after selling the tomatoes, unfortunately they have all been destroyed,”Mr Kintu said.

 The storm, which lasted an hour, blew off roofs of Kyamulibwa UMEA Primary School, a fuel station and Kasaka Church of Uganda-all in Kyamulibwa Town Council.

Mr Mike Kaweesa, a resident of Kiggasa B, Kyamulibwa Sub-county, said:  Most of the victims were hit by falling debris, but we are lucky that we have not registered any deaths.”

Mr Vincent Ssekalema, a councillor representing Kyamulibwa Town Council at the district,   said many of the victims are elderly and they since been admitted to Kyamulibwa Health Centre IV.


In Bugweri District, eastern Uganda, authorities at Bumozi Primary School, Buyanga Sub-county, are calling for interventions following a downpour that left seven classrooms razed to the ground.

Mr Christopher Kaziba, the head teacher, said about 700 pupils risk missing lessons in Third Term, which commences this week.

“We are lucky that this disaster happened when pupils were still in Second Term holiday,’’ he said.

Mr Kaziba said the school is used by five others as a centre for sitting Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), adding that for fear of jeopardising the future of those children, there is a need for immediate intervention by both the government and other well-wishers.

In Buikwe District, Mr Emmanuel Balikuddembe, a farmer in Buvunya Village, Lugazi Municipality, said a storm destroyed his one-and-a-half acre banana plantation.

Mr Balikudembe said: “Everything has been destroyed and I am just going to replant the bananas which were uprooted by the storm.”

He, however, attributed the destruction to environmental degradation.

Meanwhile, on September 5 in West Nile Sub-region, lightning killed three children and injured one in two separate incidents.

 The incident occurred at Rokoze Village, Paladru Parish Drajini Sub-county in Yumbe District during a light downpour.

 Mr Bashir Ahumad, the uncle to the deceased children, said the incident happened when the victims had sought refuge in the kitchen.

 “It is unfortunate that we lost Fahad Bangutu, 12, and a Primary Three pupil of Lodonga Black Primary School, and Zaidin Ayub, 9, Primary One pupil at the same school, and Suraya Ayub, 12, sustained injuries,” he said.

 Mr Bashir adds: “They [victims] were in the kitchen boiling water for bathing. However as they were in the kitchen, lightning struck and threw them outside. We rushed them to Lodonga Health Centre IV where my sons Fahad Bangutu and Zaidin Ayub were pronounced dead.”

  Similarly, in Arua City, a 16-year-old boy identified as Sabir was struck dead by lightning at Kebir Cell,  in Kenya Ward,  Central Division.

Mr Sabino Amandra, the senior environment officer of Adjumani District, said the current rains in the area are expected to continue reaching peak levels around mid to late October.

“So, because some of our places are prone to floods, we are advising residents, especially in the sub-counties of  Arinyapi, Dzaipi, and Pakele that experienced floods last year to move to safer places ,” Ms Amandra said.

In Bugisu Sub-region,  nine people were injured, 83 houses buried after a landslide hit five parishes in Bungati Sub-county, Namisindwa District on September 12. This followed rains that pounded the area for more than 10 hours. Buwambete,Busela, Bukulungi, Bushibuta, and Bukhasame were some of the affected parishes.

 According to Mr Stephen Wakoli, the chairperson of Buganti Sub-county, several animals, and crops like maize, beans, and coffee, among others, were also affected by the landslide.

 He said those injured were hit by rolling stones and mud and are currently nursing injuries at Butuwa Health Centre located at Kato Sub-county in Manafwa District.

 Mr Emma Bwayo, the youth male district council representative, said more cracks have been sighted at Bumbo Town, Bumbo Sub-county, and Bukokho Sub-county as rain continues to pound the area.

 “The government has always told people to vacate to safer areas during such moments rather than coming up with a permanent solution. Our people in Namisindwa and other disaster-prone districts in Bugisu need a permanent solution,” he said.

Last year, a storm destroyed food crops, animals and buildings.

Western Uganda

In the west, particularly Rubanda District, three people were injured last week while several crop gardens were destroyed in Nshanjare Town Council after a two-hour downpour.

Rubanda District Woman Member of Parliament, Ms Prossy Mbabazi Akampurira, said she is lobbying the government to support the affected households.

Mr Stephen Kasyaba, the chairman of Rubanda District, said his technical team has compiled a list of all the victims and the property destroyed in Nshanjare Town Council for possible support.

“A list of 21 households and more than 100 crop gardens that were destroyed in Nshanjare Town Council has already been compiled ready for submission to the Office of the Prime Minister,” Mr Kasyaba said.

 In Kasese , more than 100 students of  Kabirizi Primary School, a government-aided located in Lake Katwe Sub-county, have nowhere to study after a storm blew off the school roof.

Mr Wilson Baluku, the school head, said the roofs of three classrooms were  blown off, while another classroom was partially affected.

He said about 100 iron sheets were ripped off, creating a dire situation for the 114 learners who were using the affected classrooms.

“It’s not feasible for us to have Primary Seven pupils sharing classrooms with Primary One pupils. The situation has become exceedingly challenging for us,” he said yesterday.

At least Shs7.5 million is urgently needed to repair the damaged classroom block, according to Mr Baluku.

Mr Semu Bangahi, the chairperson of the school management committee, said in the meantime, learners will study inside the neighbouring church, school store, and under trees on the compound.

In another incident, numerous families in Kahendero I cell of Kahendero Ward in Muhokya Town Council, Kasese District are homeless after a September 9 storm de-roofed their houses.

Ms Grace Kabona, one of the affected locals, said her household of seven needs urgent assistance.  “We can only hope it doesn’t rain again since we have nowhere to sleep so we need assistance from the government.”

Meteorology’s Tips

Ms Lilian Nkwenge, the principal public relations officer at Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) has advised the public to ensure that their houses and roofs can withstand storms, as projected in September and October.

“For the farmers,they should dig trenches in their gardens to safeguard crops, they should also not cultivate in wetlands because  enhanced rains will sweep their crops,” she said.

 Ms Nkwenge said lightning arrestors should be installed on buildings. Meteorologists have already warned of an El-Nino,heavy rains that could potentially cause  destruction, especially mountainous areas.

Environmentalists advise people to plant at least 10 trees every year to act as windbreaks in case of storms.

Complied by Al Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Fred Wambede, Robert Muhereza and Emmanuel Arineitwe,Olivier Mukaaya Philip Wafula,  Noeline Nabukenya,Abubaker Kirunda , Denis Edema ,Felix Warom Okello, Jerome Kule Bistwande ,Alex AshabaMarko Taibot &  Rashul Adidi