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Narok begins reconstruction after flash floods leave trail of destruction

The devastating floods that left a trail of destruction and death in Narok could have been avoided had plans to relocate the town not been opposed.

The floods, which drowned the town on Tuesday, not only left scores dead but also destroyed property worth millions of shillings and left infrastructure in a sorry state.

When Jane Ndung’u opened her business premise on Tuesday morning, little did she know that she will incur losses running into millions of shillings later in the day. The business had been brisk till 4pm when a slight drizzle rapidly turned into a torrent.  A customer had just walked in to purchase some bags of cement when calamity struck.

“I just heard people screaming and before I could do anything, water was gushing into my hardware store. In less than two minutes, the whole room was full of water and we had to jump on to the counter,” said Ndung’u, the proprietor of Bomax Hardware.

Narrating her ordeal, Ms Ndung’u said iron sheets fell on her and her customer as the raging water rose even higher. “I saw people getting submerged in water as they were swept downstream. They died painfully as no one dared to help them,” she said.

Painful death

It was when she had perched herself on top of the ceiling that she realised she had suffered cuts from the iron sheets.

“I was losing so much blood but the need to remain alive was more important as I held on to the ceiling for over two hours,” she said.

When The Standard on Sunday visited her at hospital, Ndung’u had received five stitches on her right leg. She said she lost property worth more than Sh2 million.

“I still see images of people screaming for help and I can’t help imagining the painful death they underwent. Something must be done to avoid a recurrence of such a tragedy,” she said from her hospital bed.

For Monica Kisuswa, a mother of five, her story is more painful. Kisuswa found herself in a hospital bed with a spinal cord injury.

On Tuesday, she had visited the county headquarters with the hope of seeing Governor Samuel Tunai whom she wanted to ask for help to clear a hospital bill so her child could be discharged.

“I had just arrived in town when the flash floods hit. I sought refuge in one of the shops but the strong waters broke the door. All I remember was being hit with items as the shelves were brought down,” she said.

She lost Sh30,000 and now has to contend with her situation and her child’s outstanding hospital bill of Sh100,000.

In the male ward, Victor Ng’ang’a narrated how he was attending to his customer’s when the flood waters hit his barber shop.

“I was almost through shaving my customer when we heard people screaming. My client rushed to see what was happening but was swept downstream. I fractured a borne and broke my arm. But I count myself lucky,” he said.

Governor Samuel Tunai has reiterated that Narok town should be relocated to the 600-acre Limanet area. He however faces stiff resistance from a section of politicians and elders.

“The county government had proposed that the town be moved to Limanet area but there was opposition from some politicians but our stand as a county remains unchanged,” said Tunai.

Permanent solution

He said the frequent floods in the town were among the top priorities in his campaign manifesto and relocating the town was a permanent solution.

Those opposed to the relocation claim the land in Limanet belongs to the community and that elders and some leaders were not “properly” consulted before the decision to move the town was reached.

Tunai has also ordered those with buildings along the water-ways to vacate, saying the haphazard buildings along the floodways contributed to the huge losses incurred by business people.

As a temporary measure, he said the county would upgrade the drainage system to facilitate free flow of flood water.

The county government recently awarded a Sh570 million tender to a Chinese Company, Zhonghao Overseas Engineering Construction Company, to upgrade the drainage, but it is yet to begin the work.

The plan to relocate the town has received the support of Narok Business Central District Association Vice Chair David Mpatiany, who said traders lost more than Sh100 million to the floods.

“As business people, we have incurred losses running to millions of shillings. The magnitude of the destruction can only be compared to what happened in 1992. Most traders who had sought bank loans to establish their businesses are now totally unable to service their loans,” said Mpatiany.

He blamed the floods to poor construction of dams in Majengo area of the town.

“The dams would have reduced the speed of the water had they withstood its force. Unfortunately Ewaso Ngiro South Development Authority did shoddy work,” said Mpatiany.

County Commissioner Arthur Osiya has also warned those in risky areas to close down their businesses until further notice to avert more lose of life and property.

The National Government, through the Ministry of Devolution, pledged material support to the affected residents.

Principal Secretaries Mwanamaka Amani Mabruki (Devolution) and Eng Peter Mangiti (Planning) said they have already dispatched a contingent of National Youth Service officers to assist in opening up of the mud-blocked roads.

“We will handle this disaster jointly with county government. We will provide shelter and food to the victims,” said Ms Mabruki.

Tunai also announced that the county government would foot the medical bills of the flood victims and support young traders who lost their businesses to the raging waters.

Joseph Sonkori, a disaster management expert, wants the county government to establish a fully-fledged disaster management department with trained personnel.

He said there is total lack of disaster preparedness and response in Narok.

“We ought not have waited for Red Cross and others from Nairobi. We are living in a hazard prone area thus the need for such a department,” said Sonkori.

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