NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – Transport has been restored on the Mombasa – Nairobi highway with repairs made on the Athi River bridge that was washed away on Thursday night by heavy rain.
The main bridge at the Kangundo – Kamulu road which also went down has been repaired according to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) which had diverted motorists following floods in the area.
“The bridge is therefore closed to traffic for safety reasons until water levels recede. The situation is being monitored constantly and the public will be advised promptly of developments,” KeNHA said following the closure on Thursday and advised that an “alternative route is Konza- Katumani – Machakos – Roma – Ruai – Cabanas.”
Hundreds of motorists were stranded for the better part of the night after the two bridges went down due to heavy rains and there is heavy traffic from both sides.
Traffic police officers have been deployed to main junctions in the affected areas to control traffic and restore normalcy.
“While the bridge has now been re-opened to traffic, road users are requested to exercise care and strictly follow traffic control instructions from the officers on site,” Charles Njogu, KeNHA’s Assistant Director in charge of Corporate Communication said in a stament Friday morning.
“Further disruptions may be necessary as part of the reinstatement process. Patience and cooperation is requested should this occur,” he warned.
KeNHA said water levels at the Stoni Athi Bridge – between Athi River and Kyumvi – had reduced to safe levels adding repairs to erosion-damaged approaches will continue.
Following heavy rains on Thursday, five people were reported dead in Kitui when the charcoal laden lorry they were travelling in was swept away by raging waters.
In Narok and Mwingi, two people were swept away by flood waters with police saying there was a possibility some deaths may have gone unreported.
With the Kenya Meteorological Department forecasting an average of 50mm of rainfall on Friday and the weekend in Nairobi, Western, South Rift Valley, Southeastern lowlands, Northern, and Central region of the country, questions abound on the safety of residential areas identified as vulnerable.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) on Thursday challenged local governments in flood-prone areas to intensify the clean-up of plastic waste amid the heavy downpour.
According to NEMA Director-General, Geoffrey Wahungu, the agency has reached out to county environment officers to ensure plastic bottles likely to clog drainage systems, particularly in Nairobi, are collected.
“We’ve agreed to seize the opportunity to clean up the debris that has been washed ashore by the fast-flowing streams,” he said during an assessment tour of the Kirichwa Kubwa section of the Nairobi River which had flooded.
Floodwaters from the Kirichwa Kubwa section had submerged a bridge connecting St Mary’s Primary School to James Gichuru Road following heavy rains.
The school’s administration was however quick to point out that operations at the institution remained uninterrupted saying learners, parents, and teachers had access to the school through an alternative gate.
“Everybody in the school compound is safe. Our children are safe because we have two entry points to the school. The school is still accessible via Rhapta Road,” Benedict Otieno, the School Principal told Capital FM News.
According to NEMA, a number of settlements along the Nairobi River remain high risk areas, residents urged to vacate should flood waters surge.
“We have NEMA teams that are monitoring the flood-prone sections of Nairobi River which include Mathare, Huruma, South B and C,” Wahungu said.
Floodwaters disrupted traffic on most roads leading to the Nairobi Central Business District, causing huge delays in the morning rush hour on Thursday.
Last week, the meteorological department projected rainfall levels ranging from 20mm to 50mm in most of Nairobi and its environs.
At Moi Air Base in Embakasi, for instance, the weatherman reported 50.3 mm between Tuesday and Thursday last week.
The second highest rainfall was recorded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 35.8 mm.
At the Wilson Airport along Lang’ata Road, the weatherman recorded 32.7mm of rain.
Rainfall levels in Ng’ong and Dagoretti were 21mm and 17.9mm respectively.
On Wednesday, the meteorological department anticipated continuation of heavy rainfall in Nairobi as well as counties in the South Rift Valley, Southeastern lowlands, Northern, and Central region of the country.