IMAGES of the flooded Society Business Park basement car park and pools of water blocking roads in the various parts of Lusaka are a testament to a major problem in the Lusaka drainage system.
Worse still, many pedestrians are forced to take risks in a bid to avoid falling into hidden ditches or loosing footing on uneven ground.
A check around the Central Business District (CBD) has seen a return of street vendors with some opting to erect stands and mobile money booths on walk ways.
The development has caused accumulation of filth and more disruption to pedestrians as streets have now been turned into dumpsites.
The Lusaka City Council (LCC) has warned of stern action against anyone found dumping garbage in undesignated places and erecting illegal stands along the walk ways but residents must also play their part.
LCC public relations manager, George Sichimba, said although vendors were allowed to trade in some roads in the city, they were not supposed to put up any stands along the walk ways.
Mr Sichimba said some vendors were dumping garbage in the drain at city market and such has since contributed to the drain being blocked.
City father, Mayor Miles Sampa has made an impassioned plea for residents to help keep the city clean.
In a Facebook Post the Mayor shared: Yesterday our City had unprecedented downpour of over 140ml on the Rain guage, I am told by our Town Clerk Mr Alex Mwansa.The average rainfall in the City hitherto is normally around 40ml per session.
This instantly filled the City grounds to the brim and more so bearing in mind the City topography is a plateau, a trough.. like a basin from high hilly edges around Chilanga area in the South and Katuba areas in the North leading to water collecting in the baseline from Kanyama, CBD, Kamwala, Mumana area to Mtendere, Salama, Kaunda Square areas.
Many years ago, the flood Water would be instantly absorbed or sucked down, contained by spongy dambos that existed between ZNBC towards Parliament and towards UNZA to the correctly named location called Marshlands to Chudleigh down to Foxdale or Meanwood mutumbi area.
These Dambos unfortunately have over the years been transformed into Concrete structures.. buildings… some if not most illegal but some legal. Yes approved by Council or Governments of the day from over 20 years ago but suffice to say don’t know why they did so as I was not there and not part of to have attempted to stop them. I am however much alive to the saying “pianago apyana namabala” which means “he who inherits, takes over both the good and the bad of that seat or throne (mayoral)”.
So the problem of floods, mainly due to blocked natural soakaways and natural draining City paths is now my problem also and unfortunately I should take responsibility for the past human errors at LCC and beyond.
What have we been doing since last rain season to mitigate floods;
1. Cleaning of drainages especially the Bombay main drainage line that collects and drains water from the South to the North end of the entire City. I must say the Bombay drainage played its intended role yesterday as can be seen from a video clip with massive volume of water flowing in extreme fast speed. It could have been worse without the Bombay drainage constructed last 10 years at a Cost of around $30M courtesy of the American government via the Millenium challenge programme.
2. LCC has also been demolishing some illegal structures built around the Bombay drainage and elsewhere like in Salama and Munali areas.
3. LCC has in the past one year since last rains unblocked the outer points of undergroud drainage system in CBD.
4. LCC has purchased a water pumping truck to help suck out water especially from inside homes when it happens. We needed and still need more if our resource base allowed.
WHAT ARE WE DOING TODAY. IMMEDIATE MEASURES
1. The Rains of yesterday calls for immediate Humanitarian support to some most affected homes. Our Town Clerk is meeting up with the Disaster Mitigating Management Unit (DMMU) for possible immediate logistical support to victims of the unprecedented rainfall yesterday.
2. I have asked the Town Clerk to engage Afcon contractors working on the Lusaka Decongestion project to priotise and recheck the drainages along all their road works that I must mention have not yet been handed back to LCC to manage.
3. We will be enhancing our sensitisation programme to residents on safety measures to undertake in such flood time and more so remind them to the pending dangers or the Cholera disease following such heavy rains.
4. We will be loud on media and door to door reminding residents especially in highly densely populated areas not to drink shallow well water as it is likely to mix with dirt under ground. Such water should first be boiled if it has to be drunk.
5. Remind Residents to observe cleanliness at all time by not throwing litter anyhow and also wash hands frequently with soap at all times.
LONG TERM SOLUTION TO CITY FLOODS
This requires a huge Capital project to redo entire City Floods drainage system that would include 2 more types of Bombay Drainage systems on the far East and West of the City. The cost herein would be around $300M and evidently beyond the finacial capacity muscle of the Lusaka City Council. We shall therefore continue to engage our Central Government and the Donor community for support in the floods conondrum.
Many thanks for all your involvement from yesterday and it’s never been any louder that something need to be done about the Lusaka floods sooner than later. We all cannot continue looking at it as Business As Usual (BAU) year in year out doing nothing about it but expecting and hoping the rains won’t cause floods. It’s always likely and going to happen and more so that it has been and now also happening in other African Countries like Mozambique and other parts of the World, the Mayor writes.
Wise words that should be heeded.