NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
After enduring a dry spell that lasted months
causing severe drought in several parts of the country, Kenyans
are currently grappling with heavy rains that are pounding the
East African nation.
The rains started
barely a week ago signaling the end of dry spell and citizens
welcomed them with joy, but thousands are already feeling the
pain of the downpour.
Heavy traffic jams,
blocked roads due to poor drainage, flooding of houses,
displacement and high fares are among the consequences of the
rains residents have to grapple with.
On Sunday, it rained
continually in most parts of the country, with the rains that
started on Saturday night lasting the entire day. They continued
up to Monday morning in some regions, including Nairobi.
The change of the
weather pattern, from a dry spell to heavy rains, has been
drastic, pointing to the effects of climate change affecting the
East African nation.
Department had predicted that the long rains season would start
in March and end in May. The rains were expected to increase in
intensity as time progresses, but all indications are clear that
they have started on a high.
“Rains are a
blessing and I was looking forward to their start because the
dry spell had pushed us to the edge. But it is barely a week
since they started and I am already feeling like it has been
raining for the last one month,” Catherine Odengo, who works
with a tour company in Nairobi, said on Monday.
Her works involves a
lot of travelling to different parts of the country with both
local and foreign tourists to game reserves and lodges.
On Feb. 28, with a
group of tourists, she left the capital Nairobi for the Tsavo
National Park at the coast.
“Our four-day tour
was good thanks to the dry weather that made it easy for us to
crisscross the massive park seeing elephants and other wild
animals. But on Friday, it started to rain and we had to cut
short our tour and return to Nairobi because the roads in the
park could not allow us,” she recounted.
The journey back to
the capital on Saturday turned into a nightmare, as Odengo with
the group of tourists found a massive traffic jam some 50km to
Nairobi. They spent 10 hours in the jam, only managing to
wriggle out on Sunday mid-day.
Police blamed the
massive traffic that stretched for kilometres on heavy rains and
‘overlapping’, a bad habit by Kenyan motorists that involves
driving on the wrong side. The rains exacerbated the situation.
In the capital
Nairobi, the city’s poor drainage has once again been exposed by
the heavy rains, with a good number of roads rendered impassable
due to floods and a majority clogged by traffic.
spending plenty of time in traffic jams like never before and
commuters have to contend with being charged double fare as
public transport operators take advantage of the situation.
“I left home at
about 6am for work and spend two-and-half hours in traffic
instead of the usually one hour from Kahawa to the city centre.
The last time I stayed in traffic that much was over a year
ago,” said Moses Kimani, a banker in Nairobi.
One of the estates
worst affected by the floods in Nairobi following the deluge is
the middle-income South C.
Residents spend the
better part of Friday night and Saturday morning removing water
from their houses due to the floods.
“It was horrible. I
arrived home late in the night due to a heavy traffic jam only
to find my house flooded. I could not even get in and had to
spend the night at a friend’s place and return the following
morning to clear the mess,” said Harrison Musila, a project
officer with a non-state organization, in Nairobi.
The rains have cut
off several roads across the country, with among the worst hit
being the Nairobi-Narok road which leads to the world-famed
Masai Mara Game Reserve.
accidents have also been reported in different parts of the
country in the last two days due to slippery roads and poor
visibility following the rains.
Volunteers Association noted that at least five people were
killed in different parts of the capital over the weekend
following the heavy rains.
Department in its latest update noted that Nairobi, western,
Rift Valley and Nyanza regions would receive rainfall from March
1, which would continue for the better part of this month.