, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5 – The government has issued a landslide alert in several parts of the country following the onset of the long rains.
In a press statement, Special Programmes Permanent Secretary Andrew Mondoh said there was a high likelihood of flooding, landslides and lightning occurring in the River basins of Nzoia, Nyando, Yala and Galana.
He said this could lead to the possible displacement of people in the affected areas.
“A deluge is also expected in Budalangi, Nyando and Ahero while in the Coastal region, the areas that will be affected include Garsen and Lamu,” he stated.
The public has also been urged to take precaution in parts of Western, Nyanza, the Central Rift and the South Rift areas.
“Other areas to be affected include Busia, Butere, Mumias, Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Kisii, Kuria, Nyamira, Borabu, Gucha, Trans Nzoia(Kwanza), Uasin Gishu, Kericho, Nandi, Nakuru, Narok and Kajiado,” he outlined.
The alert was issued as President Mwai Kibaki ordered that measures be taken to avoid such incidents that lead to loss o f precious human lives.
The president said there was need for preventive steps to be taken to avoid the occurrence of such disasters, especially now that the long rains have begun in many parts of the country.
“Steps should be taken to control human settlement in disaster prone areas to avoid loss of life and property. Members of the Provincial Administration and Internal Security have been ordered to identify and control settlement in landslide prone areas,” he said in a statement.
He also asked relevant government agencies to avoid excessive red tape and bureaucracy and make necessary equipment available in times of emergencies.
“Persons who live near riverbanks or who have built in flood prone areas are advised to move to higher grounds to avoid being victims of flooding,” he added.
Meanwhile, following the Mathare 4 disaster that claimed eight lives on Wednesday, an emergency meeting was called at the Prime Minister’s office to discuss the status of the disaster and evaluate the required humanitarian assistance.
The meeting resolved that the committee that had handled the Sinai fire disaster should be re-activated to immediately handle the disaster.
“The government has set up a temporary camp at Heidamire Primary School, for those whose structures were destroyed by the landslide and those whose houses were demolished to create an access to the site of the disaster,” the PS said in the statement.
He pointed out that the government is currently involved in interventions to coordinate the search and rescue operations and also to provide relief food and non-food items to the victims.
“We are also providing provision of electricity, water and sanitation, psychosocial support and medical care to those affected,” he went on further to state.
Heavy rains that occurred in Nairobi on Tuesday night caused huge boulders to go tumbling down, burying houses and those inside under sludge of mud and stones.
Search and rescue operations were mounted by government agencies which included the Kenya Defence Forces, the Police, National Youth Service, and National Disaster Operation Centre. The Kenya Red Cross Society were also at the scene helping in the rescue operations.
Most families were asleep when the boulders fell from an overhanging cliff, trapping many of them before others were rescued and rushed to the Kenyatta National Hospital. Nine victims were admitted to the country’s largest referral hospital.
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere had told journalists at the scene that authorities believed more bodies were trapped in the debris.
Bulldozers from the Transport Ministry, National Youth Service (NYS) and another one called from a company constructing the Thika Highway helped clear the site.
The Red Cross said more than 40 houses were destroyed in the sprawling slum when huge boulders came crashing as residents slept while others were preparing to leave for their work places.