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Weatherman predicts heavy rains will persist until mid this month

BUSIA
By | January 4th 2010

By Lucianne Limo and Mutinda Mwanzia

Heavy rains will continue until mid this month, the Kenya Meteorological Department has warned. Senior Assistant Director in charge of forecasting Samwel Marigi said the rains are here and Kenyans should heed the forecasts and take precautions.

"The heavy rainfall currently experienced countrywide will continue until mid month, then it will decline," Marigi said on the telephone.

BIG LOSS: Residents of Kures, Mogotio District, slaughter livestock killed by floods at the weekend. Photo: Boniface Thuku/Standard

He said the ‘El Nino’ phenomenon would end in early February.

Marigi cited Western Kenya, parts of Rift Valley, Northern Lodwar and Central Province as receiving the lion’s share of rains.

"These regions are very active as far as rainfall is concerned," the official added.

The coastal strip and some parts of the Rift Valley, Marigi said, have not received rainfall.

Last year, the department announced Kenya would experience the ‘El Nino’ rains from October to early this year.

Start in October

The rains, it said, would fall throughout the country starting the first week of October to this month.

The rainfall, however, was never recorded as predicted by the department. There was a dry spell in November and December.

Reacting to this, some farmers in the Rift Valley, through the Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers, threatened to sue the Meteorological Department for ‘misleading them by predicting inaccurate forecast, which led to huge crop loses.’ Marigi said the department did not err, adding the forecast was accurate and is part of what is being witnessed.

"What is happening now is what we predicted in August and we clearly stated the rainfall will spill over to January," he added.

The Met department, he added, gives information to be used as guidance for purposes of planning.

He said floods were mostly a result of soil saturation due to prolonged rain. Last August, Met Director Joseph Mukabana said the ‘El Nino’ rains would not be as heavy as witnessed in 1997/98, when it destroyed infrastructure, but added there would be some destruction.

Meanwhile, transport has been disrupted in Kangundo and Matungulu districts after heavy rains swept away sections of major roads.

Major roads

The Saturday night downpour also paralysed communication in Tala, Mbiuni, Thika, Mwala and Machakos towns.

The Tala-Thika, Tala-Mbiuni, Kangundo-Mwala and Kangundo-Machakos roads were worst affected.

"The roads are in a poor state and should be addresses without delay," said Mr Peter Kioko, a road user in Tala. The Kangundo-Nairobi highway was also affected.

The rains also marooned houses in Koma and Kamulu plains, forcing families to move to higher ground.

The Athi River, which traverses Matungulu District, also burst its banks.

On Sunday, former Kangundo MP Moffat Maitha urged the Government to exploit the Athi River for irrigation purposes.

"When it rains, the river floods and its waters go to waste. We should exploit it," said Maitha.

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