Rains: City drainage systems in rude test

11May 2019
Getrude Mbago
The Guardian
Rains: City drainage systems in rude test

THE ongoing rains have yet again exposed the wanting state of drainage systems in the city of Dar es Salaam as businesses came to a standstill for the better part of the past two days - with forecasts showing the downpour will continue during the weekend.

City residents and motorcycle riders negotiate their way at a flooded patch along Morogoro Road at Jangwani area following a heavy downpour in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Photo: John Badi

As it happens every long rains season, clogged drainage has created ponds in most parts of the commercial capital’s central business district, making driving a hustle.

The Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) yesterday said that that rains will continue pounding today through tomorrow even as low-lying parts of the city, especially settlements along the Msimbazi Valley, already face an accommodation challenge.

Speaking to reporters, the TMA Manager for Forecasting Services, Samuel Mbuya said intermittent heavy precipitation was expected over some areas of Tanga, Coast, Dar es Salaam along with Zanzibar and Pemba islands for the next two days. The public should continue taking precautions as the rains may lead to a wave of water related diseases, he appealed.

A survey conducted by this newspaper in various parts of the city witnessed road, bridges and houses especially in low-lying areas like Mkwajuni, Sinza Uzuri, Tandale, Jangwani, Boko and Msimbazi valley being badly flooded. Many shops remained closed for many hours on Thursday and Friday.

“There is no business today as homes, business frames are all filled with water. I also haven’t reported to job today as it was difficult to come out and reach the highway...The situation is terrible,” said Radhia Feisal, a resident of Boko, on the northern outskirts of Dar es Salaam.

The situation also affected some schools in low-lying areas like Msasani, causing havoc to teachers and school children. At Msasani Primary School in Kinondoni district, some classrooms were filled with water, inconveniencing the conduct of classes and disrupting attendance.

Many roads starting from those on the outskirts to the city centre, the Post Office area, were filled with water especially during the morning hours.

Hassan Rahim, a commuter bus driver plying the Tegeta to Posta route said the situation sounds an alert to the responsible authorities to take action over the poor drainage systems and how to permanently fix them.

“It took me time in the morning to decide whether to take the bus, and opted to provide the services to help some residents who were rushing to their jobs...I think the major problem here is poor infrastructures especially drainage systems. The government should take this very seriously,” he observed.

The rains also led to the suspension of rapid transit bus services for nearly two hours (from 11:40am-1:10 pm) thus causing passengers to crowd at major bus stops.

Every time it pours in the city, the story is the same: homelessness, losses of belongings and instances of drowning.

Extreme situations are not rare as in March 2015, where scores of people died after it rained heavily for days. Earlier in April 2014 as many as 10 people died after widespread flooding in the city.

The culprit, experts say, is poor or blocked drainage systems, tied to rapid urbanisation and unplanned housing settlements, often in flood plains and close to seasonal outlets to the sea that were rivers in better days.

An estimated 70 percent of city inhabitants live on informally constructed houses, land use data and demographic surveys affirm.