Flash floods loom

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THE Meteorological Services Department (MSD) yesterday warned of looming flash floods in some parts of the country as heavy rains are expected to continue over the next 10 days.

Feluna Nleya/Tatenda Chitagu/Patrick Chitongo

The warning comes as government has started evacuating 4 000 families living in Tokwe-Mukosi  Dam catchment area in Masvingo, following floods that hit the province on Tuesday, forcing the dam wall to crack.

“The wet weather is set to continue across the country,” MSD head of Public Weather Services Tichaona Zinyemba said.

“Indications are that heavy rain will occur and therefore the risk of flash flooding remains high. Already the ground is soaked so any run-off that occurs might potentially trigger flash flooding in vleis and poorly-drained soils. There is a risk of flash flooding, consequently all necessary measures should be taken to minimise loss of life and property.”

Most flood-prone areas lie in the country’s northern region.

Zinyemba added: “The public is urged to liaise with community leaders, local police and other agencies that deal with disaster risk reduction whenever they encounter unforeseen circumstances that are potentially life-threatening.”

Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti said the evacuation exercise was targeting people settled up and downstream.

“We have started evacuating those upstream who were supposed to be resettled in phases. . . We have also put those downstream on high alert in the event that the water levels continue to rise,” Bhasikiti said.

However, Zimbabwe National Water Authority chief executive officer Albert Muyambo said they were making frantic efforts to ensure that the dam does not overspill.

In Chiredzi, the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) yesterday ordered police to block the “killer” Chilonga Bridge along Runde River and arrest motorists who continue using the low-lying bridge during the rainy season as it had claimed many lives over the past few years.

Chiredzi district administrator Clara Muzenda, who doubles up as CPU chairperson, told NewsDay yesterday that they had instructed police to stop motorists from using the bridge that links Chiredzi town and its vast rural communities of Chilonga, Chikombedzi and Malipati through Sango Border Post, until a new bridge has been constructed.

Muzenda said they had also instructed police to arrest owners of homemade canoes who risk people’s lives by offering to transport them across the crocodile-infested river.

But, Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Peter Zhanero said he was not aware of Muzenda’s directive.

The decommissioning of the bridge will force residents in Chikombedzi, Malipati and Chilonga to travel a distance of about 80km to reach Chiredzi, whereas the bridge had made the distance 60km shorter.

During last year’s rainy season, four people drowned when a tractor and a commuter omnibus were swept away midway through the bridge.

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