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Minister warns Kasese residents of more disasters, urges relocation to safer areas

Following the recent spate of disastrous floods and landslides in the district, State Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, Musa Ecweru, has warned residents of Kasese district to expect more such disasters in the near future, urging them to relocate to safer areas with immediate effect.

“We expect more disasters of the sort. Those staying in high altitude areas should relocate to safe places for fear of land and mudslides, while those on flat land should also do the same since flooding is going to increase in the whole horn of Africa and in East Africa,” Ecweru said, adding that other areas like Kabale, Busia and Namalu faced a similar dilemma.

The minister made the remarks during an emergency visit he had made to Kasese last week in order to assess the damage done by recent heavy rains that resulted in destructive flash floods as several local rivers burst their banks.

He noted with concern that the magnitude of the disaster was greater in Kasese compared to neighbouring Bundibiugyo which was also hit, but not as badly.

Prominent among the destroyed properties were the newly rehabilitated Kyanjuki bridge along Kilembe road that was also washed away by the water, Kilembe Mines Hospital and Bikone primary school, in addition to crops and animals.

Minister Ecweru promised that the Ministry of Works would send a team of engineers to assess the damage at the hospital [Kilembe Mines] and advise accordingly.

“I have come here to assess the magnitude of the problem so that… government can prepare a good response to handle the entire region.” 

Not the first time

Kasese has borne more than its fair share of devastating floods in the past, most notably on May 1, 2013, May 8, 2014, May 7, 2015 and May 12, 2016. However, this is the second time that floods have wreaked such widespread havoc on infrastructure and lands across the district.

According to Kasese Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Lt. Joe Walusimbi, the district has been severely affected.

“Some schools have been destroyed, bridges and roads washed away, as well as people’s houses. I call upon residents to be more vigilant during these times.”

Jafari Kigutiya, the Chairperson for Base Camp Lower told this reporter that 46 houses were affected by the floods, leaving 480 people homeless. The displaced were being sheltered temporarily at Base Camp and Kasese Primary schools in Kasese town.

Coronavirus fears

In his remarks, Ecweru emphasised the need for people to observe social distancing as part of continuing efforts to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus, noting that it would be absurd for people to survive the floods and then die of COVID-19.

“Government will find safe places where it can put the displaced persons now, considering that COVID-19 is still in the country. The Prime Minister’s office has already sent food relief and some tapelines that will be used to observe social distance,” he said. 

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