Monday, 7 December 2020


FLASH floods yesterday hit parts of Bulawayo resulting in several houses and some roads being waterlogged following a heavy downpour that pounded the entire city for hours.

The floods hit parts of Pumula suburbs, Nketa, Emganwini, Nkulumane and Cowdray Park among other areas, rendering some bridges and major roads leading to the city centre inaccessible.

In the city centre, the water covered the streets, totally obscuring some roads and making it virtually impossible for both pedestrians and motorists to navigate through.

The city’s clogged storm drainage system did not help matters as the torrential rain immediately formed rivulets.

Water destroyed household property at some homes and the Fire Brigade said it was overwhelmed by distress calls from residents. Cowdray Park residents, particularly those with houses situated in swampy areas were among the worst affected.

A Chronicle news crew visited selected suburbs in the city and observed that just-below-knee-level ponds had formed in some yards. The water flowed freely through the houses, damaging furniture and electrical gadgets. Some children could be seen playing happily in a pool of water oblivious of the dangers of contracting waterborne diseases.

Some residents scampered to remove their household property from their houses as water rushed through. They blamed Bulawayo City Council for failing to clear the storm water drainage system, leading to water flowing into their homes.

“Usually whenever it rains, water flows into our homes because of the poor drainage system. Council should upgrade the stormwater drainage system to address perennial flooding,” said Mrs Sinikiwe Ndlovu of Cowdray Park.

Another resident, Mr Michael Sibanda of Nketa 6 said: “I had just woken up when water started seeping through the cracked walls of my room and in no time the entire house was flooding. It is quite worrisome that the people around this suburb continue to be victims of flash floods every rainy season.”

Ms Thandiwe Dube of Nkulumane said when it started raining, rainwater, mixed with sewage flowed into her yard. She, however, managed to block the smelly mass from flowing into her house.

Ms Siqondile Ndlovu also from Nkulumane said it took them an hour to scoop water out of her house. Some of her household property, which included electrical gadgets, was soaked in water and damaged.

Ms Prudence Ndlovu of Cowdray Park said she delayed going to work due to flooding. “It was raining in the morning and difficult for me to walk to the nearest bus stop and I had to delay going to work. The poor road network in Cowdray Park also worsened the situation because there is no transport,” she said.

Most roads in the western suburbs visited by the news crew were extensively damaged by the rains and were impassable. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians had a torrid time crossing Phekiwe River in Nkulumane as it was flooded.

“I have been here for the past two hours because it is actually risky to cross such a flooded river. I was supposed to be at work, but had to phone my bosses telling them about the situation,” said Mr George Sithole, a motorist from Nkulumane.



Residents said long queues of cars formed yesterday morning when the rains started. Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BUPRA) coordinator, Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu, said council should be held responsible for any damage emanating from the flash floods.

“Planning on the part of council did not have a long-term perspective and then a swell in the population has created a significant demand on existing infrastructure, which is why it can’t cope anymore,” said Mr Ndlovu.

He said residents should also avoid littering as this causes blockage of the city’s drainage system. “Poor disposal of solid waste such as plastic, coupled by poor drainage has resulted in major clogging in the city especially during the rainy season.

“These urban floods are entirely due to human error and poor planning,” said Mr Ndlovu. Bulawayo chief fire officer, Mr Linos Phiri said his team attended to numerous flash flood calls yesterday morning.

“We were so overwhelmed by the calls and today (yesterday) we were unable to attend to some cases of flooding. We managed to attend to most of them in Emganwini and Nketa,” said Mr Phiri.

He said the major cause for flash floods was failure to create weep holes after erecting precast walls, thus interfering with the flow of water.

Mr Phiri said his team also faced resistance from some residents who did not want holes to be drilled into the precast walls.

Environmental Management Agency (EMA)’s manager responsible for environment and education Ms Amkela Sidange yesterday said when it rains litter in the environment is washed into the storm drain system, which ends up clogged resulting in flash floods.

“Although when it comes to storm drains it might be an issue of engineering, but we also have to consider things such as solid waste clogging the storm drain resulting in flash floods,” she said. Chronicle


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