UGANDA (eTN) – This year’s rainy season, as heavy as it comes, has regularly seen key intersections and roundabouts flooded, but yesterday afternoon’s biblical torrent unleashed over the city was the worst yet.
Reports came in that even hotel roofs started to leak from, among others, the Hotel Africana’s conference room and the Grand Imperial Hotel’s conference room, while traffic across much of the city, especially in and out of the central business district and large sections of the industrial area came to a complete stand still. Other low-lying areas of the city were also reported to be out of bounds due to roads turning into raging rivers.
Be that as it may, Kampala is paying the price for relentless encroachment of its surrounding wetlands where the lack of absorbing capacity is now causing much wider flooding than in years past, and in particular, causing houses and businesses built in filled-up swamps to be under water, often by several feet, when heavy rains strike.
On a much more deadly note, though, reports have come in from Mt. Elgon, again like that of last year and the year before, where heavy downpours have again caused a major landslide. At least 18 people are reported killed when their homesteads were buried under mud, and dozens more are reported missing with little hope for them as night fell on the affected areas. At the time, many were evacuated from areas even inside the park, where irresponsible local politicians had egged people on to encroach into and claim land, causing on one side a festering conflict between the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the encroachers while on the other hand the slopes of the mountain, as a result of indiscriminate felling of trees, have become unstable.
A sizeable crack opened up along Mt. Elgon as a result of suspected seismic activity, and widened by often sustained heavy rain, but evacuations at the time were soon reversed when people again flocked to the slopes in defiance of government advice to seek safer alternatives. The Uganda Red Cross was deployed to the area when the reports of the landslides first emerged in the late afternoon of yesterday and search and rescue, probably turning into recovery missions, due to unfold in the morning.
The Uganda Red Cross has appealed for urgent donations of cash and kind to aid their support efforts for survivors who have lost all their possessions and need housing, clothing, and food as a matter of urgency now. Condolences are expressed to all those who lost friends and relatives in this latest Mt. Elgon landslide disaster.