Flood warning laudable, but where's the high ground?
SEE ALSO :Uhuru's tax gamble that enraged KenyansThe Government’s commitment to averting more calamities is reflected in the decision of the Cabinet secretary for Energy, Charles Keter, to call a press conference to warn that Masinga Dam was likely to overflow by Friday this week at the rate it was filling up. By Tuesday, the dam, whose capacity is 1056.5 cubic metres, was at 1055.53 cubic metres. These are dangerous levels for those living in the vicinity of the dam should it burst and discharge the excess water. Having seen the devastation of the Solai dam, which is much smaller, those likely to be affected by flooding at Masinga must move with speed to get to safety. Mr Keter did the right thing by warning people living along Tana River in Garissa, Garsen, Hola and Bura to move to safer ground. But this, of course, is easier said than done since there are several issues to be considered. Rather than simply issue an alert, the Government should organise to get the thousands of people likely to be affected to higher, safer ground. One may ask where the safe grounds are, whether they are Government-owned or private property. It is absurd to expect thousands of panicking people to just walk to private property, schools or churches without causing friction, disruptions, or even fights in some areas. If these people go to schools, learning would be affected. Will the Government assist the likely victims to move their livestock and valuables to safe places? The Government should, therefore, identify the higher grounds to make it easier to ferry relief supplies such as bedding, tents, food and medicines. Two weeks ago, Government functionaries interviewed on television told victims of flooding that emergency supplies were available, but that there were challenges in delivering them. Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i defended the Government’s disaster response, saying it had improved, but he nonetheless admitted that there were still challenges. Overcoming these challenges should be given priority.