Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chief Sinazongwe describes floods as worst disaster

Chief Sinazongwe describes floods as worst disaster
By Charles Mangwato in Choma and Ernest Chanda in Lusaka
Thu 11 Mar. 2010, 07:20 CAT

CHIEF Sinazongwe has described the devastating effect of the floods as the worst disaster to have hit the valley district in living memory due to the massive damage to infrastructure and crops. Meanwhile, youths have taken advantage of the collapsed bridge at Sinazeze and are cashing in by carrying people on their backs to cross the flooded stream.

Chief Sinazongwe said he is shocked that despite the massive damaged to infrastructure and crops, there has been no immediate action thereby causing despair and worry among the people in the valley.

He said apart from two bridges being washed away on the Batoka-Maamba Road, several other link roads had been extensively damaged with bridges and culverts being uprooted.

He said the magnitude of human suffering as a result of damaged infrastructure was unbelievable as scarcity of food and high prices had hit the valley district.
“These floods were only witnessed in 1963,” he said.

Chief Sinazongwe said it had not even been easy for him to travel to Choma to attend a ministry of local government and housing meeting as he had to cross the stream using an excavator at the point where the bridge had been washed away.

“It is practically impossible to move. This is the first time I have left my palace since February 15 when we were inundated by floods,” he said.

“I had to use two vehicles to reach Choma, one from my palace to Sinazeze where I crossed the stream using an excavator before jumping onto another specially arranged vehicle from Choma that was waiting for us on the other side.”

He said urgent action is needed to restore normalcy in the valley district where food scarcity is already taking its toll on the people.

Chief Sinazongwe said prices of essential goods like mealie-meal had sky-rocketed with a 25 kilogramme bag hitting between K 70,000 to K 100,000.

And a Sinazongwe resident, Richwell Siamunene called on the government to help communities in that area after 1000 housing units brought down by floods.

Siamunene said several bridges had also been swept away and most roads were left impassable.

Meanwhile, youths at Sinazeze are cashing in by charging K5,000 per person to be ferried across the river on their backs.

Several women were seen on the backs of youths crossing the stream.
The youths are also making brisk business by transporting goods like mealie-meal from Choma across the stream into Sinazongwe.

Meanwhile, Sinazongwe district secretary Oliver Muuka said several commercial fishermen who are stuck with bags of Kapenta due to damaged roads have started using water transport from Sinazongwe to Siavonga.

Muuka said the local authority had lost revenue from fish levy. “Some white fishermen remain without electricity because poles that collapsed cannot be replaced as Zesco personnel cannot access their areas,” he said.

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