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Brace for flooding as heavy rains return; but who is to blame for the mess?

Heavy rains are set to resume this week, with the Meteorological Department forecasting that most parts of the country would flood from Monday due to increased rainfall.

Meteorological Services Director Peter Ambenje last week warned Nairobians to be on the lookout for flash floods.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has already set aside Sh194 million to address the effects of flooding. He has also deployed an in-house team to open up drains along roads to avert floods.

But just who is to blame for the flooding in the capital city?

According to some residents, Nairobi roads have not been designed to deal with flooding. The city’s infrastructure lacks drainage systems to deal with run-off water, they said.

Rita Oyier, a resident of Greenpark Estate in Athi River says it is possible that the ongoing construction of the Mto wa Mawe bridge caused the river to break its banks.

“This was the first time that the river flooded in this manner. It is possible that the ongoing civil works have affected the channel of the river. It is a probability that the construction of the pillars narrowed the channel of the river on our side causing an overflow,” she told Nairobi News.

RIVER TRAINING

According to roads engineer Edgar Okwiri, contractors usually do river training (improving a river and its banks) to create some working space whenever they are constructing a bridge.

“I am yet to see the Athi bridge that is under construction but judging from the level of water on the old bridge that day, for me it explains that the water was a lot and could not have mainly be caused by the river training,” he said.

Okwiri blames the recent flooding in parts of the city to blocked drainages and culverts, stating that contractors often do good road designs, complete with all the features but maintenance never takes place.

“When building roads we usually take into account drainage. It is the maintenance regime that is never done to ensure the drainage is free from debris,” he added.

The roads engineer admitted that indeed some contractors do not stick to the design that was approved thus building substandard roads.

Case in point is the recently rehabilitated Kasarani-Mwiki road that has no drainage and culverts.

PROPER OVERSIGHT

“Any contractor will cut corners given a chance as they are all in business. It’s upon the government to ensure there is enforcement and proper oversight to make sure the project works,” he said.

Engineer Okwiri also mentioned the encroaching on riparian land as another factor that is leading to the flooding witnessed in areas like Riverside Drive.

Another Nairobi resident Faith Chege blames the flooding to the poor planning of the city, stating that the drainage system in the county was designed when the city was less populated.

“Nairobi has grown overtime and so it is expected that the drainage system installed back in the day is overstretched. It is time the urban planners came up with something suitable for the current Nairobi,” she added.

Overall, Engineer Okwiri insists that even as the city grows and the weather patterns keep changing to have extreme rainfall, Nairobians should remember that “mother nature does not negotiate and stay away from riparian land.”