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Flooding Means The Drainage Is Clogged -
Most Have Not Been Cleaned For Years!

Coastweek -- Over the last few weeks the country has been pounded by rain that though we consider to be heavy is more or less normal in terms of average precipitation, writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.

The met prediction, in its vaguest splendour, predicted that we would have near normal to above normal rainfall in the Western, Rift and Central areas of the country.

This is a prediction that was made for the three months of March, April and May.

In my view the weather man has been reasonably accurate in terms of their prediction for the three months.

However, the peaks have been unseasonably high leading to the havoc we have seen across many parts of the country.

The flooding we are seeing is reminiscent of the El Nino events in the late nineties and the flooding on the mid sixties.

Motorists have been as hard hit as the farming and pastoral communities that rely on the river water and have generally settled close to the water.

The reasons we are seeing this level of destruction and displacement is common across most of the country – and it is not only about deforestation. It is all about improper developments and also clearing of undergrowth.

In Nairobi and Mombasa and indeed many of the county headquarters, flooding of roads and residential areas has been quite pronounced due to the higher precipitation rates experienced.

The reason we see flooding is that first, the drainage is clogged. Most have not been cleaned for years so water has to find alternative routes.

These alternative routes are the roads and paths on which we walk and drive.

As the water navigates the roads and paths that we use, it picks up all the rubbish that has not been cleared and this rubbish ends up being trapped where there are restrictions in the path of the water.

This could be a mesh fence, a wall, a small drain and so forth.

The trapping of rubbish will cause the water to back up and hence cause the flooding that we see.

However, the danger arises when the flooding is in places that we do not expect it to happen.

The unexpected could be on the road, could be in areas where people have built houses or even in places that have public facilities.

Water does not decide what to inundate and what to spare – it simply ploughs on to achieve its objective. Water must flow to the lowest point where it can collect and lose its potential energy.

This is energy that exists because of the difference in elevation. If something is released at a higher elevation, it will fall to the lowest point where it comes to rest and cannot move any further.

So, a stone at the top of a slope or in one’s hand has the potential energy that is released once it starts moving down a slope or is thrown by the person holding it.

As road users we must therefore change our mindset whenever the rainy season sets in or even when we have a sudden downpour that is in an isolated area when we least expect rain.

For me the warning to change how I drive is when I see any wetness on the road or on the areas surrounding the road.

I would normally err on the side of caution and assume that there has been rain in that area. I would also take the worst case and assume that the rain was heavy.

During the day one can see for a fair distance so a driver can prepare themselves for any hazards that they can see. However, night driving is different as one cannot see as far.

This is when most accidents occur as a result of “weather”. Night driving in “weather” requires special precautions – most of which are obvious.

One must drive at much lower speeds than one normally does.

The best guide is to drive so that one can make an emergency brake and stop within the distance that is visible with dipped headlights (not full lights as these tend to illuminate into the distance).

It is also imperative that should there be an oncoming vehicle, one should slow down even further as even driving into a pool of water at ten kilometres an hour is enough to create a spray that will splash onto one’s windscreen and cause one to lose orientation and probably veer off the road and hit something.

Even at this low speed, one can be seriously injured or even die depending on the circumstances.

As drivers, the rainy season is a time when we must really be conscious of the potential risks that we face and modify our behaviour accordingly.

Each driving style and each circumstance that the driving skill combines with will require a different behaviour modification.

We must make that conscious decision to change how we behave on the road.

If we do not and continue driving as though things were normal than it is an invitation to damage and probably injury and death.

It is the same for wananchi who live in areas that have had flooding in the past and it does not have to be in the recent past.

We will look at this next week

As Kachumbari says, water is a force that we must respect.

 

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