Storm blacks-out most Bulawayo suburbs

The Chronicle

Chronicle Reporters
HEAVY rains that hit Bulawayo yesterday morning triggered a power outage affecting most suburbs in the city, including the region’s main referral hospital, Mpilo Central Hospital.

Power is expected to be restored today.

Some of the suburbs which experienced power outages include Entumbane, Luveve, Cowdray Park, Magwegwe, Parklands, Kumalo, Famona, Waterford, Paddonhurst, High Mount and Harrisvale.

Homes built in wetlands in the city were also affected by flash floods.

The heavy rains coupled with lightning and hail in some places hit the city when most residents were asleep only to wake up without electricity.

ZESA western region manager Engineer Loyd Jaji confirmed that the blackout was a result of the heavy rains.

“Rains resulted in faults and due to limited resources, restoration will prioritise essential services then area faults before going to individuals. I am sure that all those outages not involving copper theft or failed transformers should be done by end of day tomorrow (today). The rains were widespread, hitting even outlying areas,” he said.

Heavy rains received in Bulawayo destroyed precast walls and caused flash floods in some suburbs while a number of areas suffered power outages

Eng Jaji could not be drawn to comment on the magnitude of the problem and how many suburbs in total were affected.

Meteorological Services Department head of forecasting, Mr James Ngoma said Bulawayo received 30mm of rain.

“Generally, the rains were light and the only meaningful showers were in Bulawayo which received 30mm. It was not the highest we have received, but it might be that the underground water table has risen and any extra rain water affects ground cables,” said Mr Ngoma.

Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the hospital also experienced power outage due to the heavy rains.

“We had a power outage at the hospital and switched to our stand-by generators. Power was restored at around 10.30am. But in my suburb, we are in darkness and information we are getting is that an underground high voltage cable feeding Suburbs, Kumalo and other areas has been affected by a lightning strike and the existing cable which is working can only hold a certain number of households,” he said.

Bulawayo acting chief fire officer Mr Linos Phiri said they received emergency calls after water flowed into houses in a number of areas.

“The brigade was called upon to open water channels to drain flooded yards in Romney Park, Third Avenue in Woodville, Holy Hollyhock close to Harrisvale and Northlyne Clinic. We also attended to a house damaged be a fallen tree in Makokoba surburb,” he said.

Mr Phiri advised residents to move to higher ground or designated areas whenever flooding occurs.

Residents of Cowdray Park whose homes were built on a wetland were affected by the heavy rains yesterday and were counting their losses owing to flash floods that resulted in water getting inside their houses and damaging property.

A resident, Mr Matthew Ncube, whose house is close to Cowdray Park Primary School, said he had to leave his car at a car park at Cowdray Park Terminus because the road was too muddy to drive through.

“I had gone out without much difficulty but driving back was a big challenge and I had to leave my car at a car park because the road is too muddy and the water makes it hard to see potholes. I feared that I might drive into a hole and get stuck,” he said.

Mr Ncube, said the absence of a drainage system is threatening infrastructural development as his neighbour’s house was slowly being destroyed by water.

“It’s just that my neighbour went to South Africa recently, but as you can see, the foundation is damaged and a trench has formed due to constant floods.

Because of the slope, all the water from upper areas flows down to our houses. If council could at least come up with a system that diverts water to the pond nearby, this could be solved,” he said.

Another resident, Mrs Tshinu Khumalo said she woke up to find her yard flooded and had difficulties accessing the gate.

“The whole yard was full of water and it took almost two hours for the water to move through the water channel that we created,” she said.

Mrs Khumalo also said rainwater had mixed with water from septic tanks and they feared this could result in outbreak of waterborne diseases.

Ward 28 counciLor Kidwell Mujuru said Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai houses were built on unserviced land and this was affecting development.

“We don’t have a drainage system. The houses were built on unserviced land so servicing of the land has become a challenge for the council. Residents are now facing serious challenges as water is flowing into their houses and is damaging property,” he said.

He also said the construction of a drainage system in the area was  work in progress.

Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution permanent secretary Mr Paul Nyoni said Government is aware of the challenges facing people who have houses built on wetlands.

He said it will soon start constructing houses and relocate those who built homes in flood prone areas.

“We were in a meeting in Harare today and it was one of the issues that we were deliberating on. Government has committed itself to build houses for people whose homes are prone to flooding.

Treasury has committed resources towards the exercise in the 2022 National Budget. We should start seeing some construction starting and I’m not saying all the houses will be completed in 2022 but we will see construction in all provinces,” said Mr Nyoni.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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