Talent Hwari Herald Reporter
Harare City Council has attributed the destruction of property and flooding of homes in parts of Borrowdale and Glen Lorne on Thursday to pre-cast walls, “that disturb the natural flow of water” although Government water engineers note that this only happens when the wall is built across a water course.
There has been extensive development in north-east Harare since Independence. This area is largely very hilly with steep valleys drained by the Mbvunze River (sometimes called the Umwindsi) and its tributaries.
Earlier development was on the hillsides but more recently has extended to the valley floors and especially along the wider than average and flatter valley drained by Borrowdale Brooke.
Many of the newer developments, including those in the valleys, are gated communities with few access roads and few roads leading directly to the river and stream beds, so blocking water from the hillside if the main drains on the main roads cannot cope with the load.
Residents in some sections of the two suburbs woke up to destruction of property on Thursday while some homes in Chitungwiza were also severely affected.
Over 2 000 houses in Chitungwiza and Harare were affected by the floods.
In a statement yesterday, Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said it was important for residents to seek approval from the city’s building inspectorate before constructing perimeter walls. “This message is coming to you in the wake of preliminary findings on why there was extensive damage in the Borrowdale and Glen Lorne areas following the heavy rains and floods,” said Mr Chideme.
“The perimeter walls in brick and mortar created a buffer that disturbed the natural flow of run-off water leading to flooding and overpowering of the perimeter walls. The flow thereon was so intense that it tore into houses, breaking window panes and doors and in some instances washing away property such as refrigerators, couches and television sets.”
In an interview, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Permanent secretary Engineer George Mlilo said pre-cast walls can only cause flooding if they are constructed across the flow of water.
“They don’t necessarily lead to flooding, unless if they are constructed across the flow of water,” he said.
Mr Chideme implored Harare residents to be on high alert and to be mindful of the fact that any amount of rain could cause flooding. He said it was important for residents to evacuate their homes the moment they see that their lives are in danger from flooding.
“Always ensure that windows and doors are properly secured and that keys to the doors are accessible. Residents should park their vehicles properly to avoid them being swept away and safe from trees that can fall in the event of a storm.
“Residents should always have a keen interest in weather forecasts and develop the culture of sharing such information with neighbours, relatives and friends.
“It is important to keep communication links with neighbours in the event of disaster. They can be the first port of help,” said Mr Chideme.
He also warned residents against crossing flooded rivers and streams.
Meanwhile, the Meteorological Services Department has warned of heavy rains countrywide that are expected to intensify from today until Tuesday next week.