BY SILAS NKALA
Bulawayo’s Pumula East, North and South suburbs were on Sunday afternoon hit by flash floods that left some houses submerged in water following heavy rains that pounded the city at the weekend.
Some of the houses had their roofs blown off, while some walls were destroyed by the strong winds.
Pumula South resident Mzwandile Ncube told Southern Eye that a hail storm hit the city on Sunday at around 3pm and left a trail of destruction.
“The most affected suburbs were Pumula East, South, and North. Some houses in Pumula East and South had their roofs blown away by strong winds while others had durawalls destroyed. We have noticed that the whole of Bulawayo has very few trees for wind breaking which makes our houses and properties vulnerable to destruction,” Ncube said.
“The rains were accompanied by strong winds and it’s not the first time that we have seen this kind of destruction taking place, sometime in 2017 we also saw such destruction. This shows that when we have strong winds, we are in danger.”
Ncube also said some houses, mostly in Pumula South, were flooded with water which damaged properties due to poor storm drains.
He said the lack of trees in Pumula South means residents are able to see as far as Khami Prison, a distance of about 23km.
“The rains were not that strong but look at the damage they did. What will happen when strong cyclones hit Bulawayo? The problem is the continuous destruction of trees, and we must also consider the issue of climate change which is now with us. The council must consider increasing the visibility of rangers while the Environmental Management Agency must escalate the planting of trees across the city,” Ncube said.
The Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) called on Zimbabwe’s urban authorities, including BCC, to prioritise climate change resilient urban infrastructure by improving the city’s storm drains in order to reduce vulnerability to storms.
“On January 2, heavy rains pounded various parts of Bulawayo including Pumula suburbs and MIHR received and witnessed unfortunate incidents of urban flooding in some parts of Pumula area. The flooding is due to poor storm drains and some durawalls not having weep holes,” MIHR said in a report.
“MIHR, therefore, urges Bulawayo residents to be responsible and ensure the opening of weep holes to minimise flooding in the communities. The organisation also urges investment in the construction and maintenance of storm drains in the city.
“Residents can also organise themselves and offer their services to maintain local storm drains. Local leaders also need to urge residents to desist from polluting storm drains in order to prevent blockages.”
The city’s chief fire officer Lynos Phiri said he was attending to a funeral and could not immediately comment on the issue.