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    Sunday, 20 March 2016

    Disaster as flashfloods destroy Beitbridge


    – Disaster struck in the border post town of Beitbridge when flash floods hit at around midnight on Friday thereby displacing more than 1 000 families from their homes that are in the low lying areas.
    Also affected by this disaster is the town's general hospital where patients woke up to find themselves in knee high floods as the flash floods, the highest in seven years caught people unaware.
    Many people were injured and hundreds of thousands of dollars of property was destroyed.
    Residents are angry and have no kind words for Government and justifiably so. The town's drainage system like many other urban centres in Zimbabwe is dysfunctional or simply not there. The residents blamed the disaster on a Government whose focus is always politics and a ruling party found in an election mode all the time.
    Three small bridges, perimeter walls to buildings in the industrial area, homes in both the low and high density suburbs, roads and other infrastructure were washed away by the floods.
    Tens of people lost their life savings in a flash as all that they could save from this tragedy is their little children as the floods rose during their sleep.
    A foreign currency vendor reportedly lost $18 000 while several vehicles were washed away by the floods.
    Residents also blamed the local leadership, town Council, local civil and political leadership for the disaster that has been waiting to happen for many years.
    "Their disaster preparedness lacks, each time they are found wanting," said Elton Zhou of Shule-Shule area in Beitbridge.
    Residents also said that Beitbridge was an important town to the country as it rakes millions of dollars every year through taxes and there was therefore need for Government to at least pour backs some of the money in order to develop the area.
    Beitbridge is the only small town in the country where all arms of government are fully represented and active.
    Despite the importance, Beitbridge's appearance is a far cry from what it represents. It has dilapidated government structures, a poor water and sewer reticulation and poorly accommodated civil servants to name just a few.
    Residents said the local MP…….. and all politicians below him are concentrating politics and never on serving the people.
     "If our country was not in a permanent election mode, if our leaders had people at heart, if our leaders focused on developmental issues, if our government had its priorities right, this time bomb could have been defused long before it posed any serious danger," said a resident with tears in his eyes as he looked at his destroyed house.
    "All my work for 20 years was destroyed in 20 minutes," he sobbed as he, like many other residents counted their losses.
    "When people are elected into office they must work for the electorate and not the other way, President (Robert) Mugabe is clear on that, only that his subordinates let him down. Everyone knows Beitbridge sits on a ticking time bomb but they are just looking. They expect his excellency to come and work here," said a senior government official who asked not to be named.
    Disaster struck in Dulivhadzimo just after 11pm last Friday after heavy rains pounded the border town.
    Most people were sleeping when they were suddenly trapped by waist-high floods. A lot of people rescued their children but lost valuables as they took their offspring to shelter.
    Sources at Beitbridge hospital said a number of people were injured as they broke burglar bars to rescue trapped people.
    Expensive plasma televisions, fridges, beds, tables, sofas and many other household effects were destroyed in more than 50 worst affected houses while schoolchildren lost books and other valuables.
    Patients admitted at the Beitbridge District Hospital had to seek refuge elsewhere on higher ground when disaster struck.
    A female patient told the Mirror that the entire ward was flooded and was only cleaned the following morning.
    "The town's drainage system has been questionable for a long time but the Government has not done anything about it, it's stupid because we are talking about human life," said Mr Motion Machacha of Dulivhadzimo.
    A Beitbridge resident who works for the government in Harare said a habit of paying lip service after disasters without taking remedial action by senior government officials was "stinking" – in an apparent reference to a visit by State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi the Beitbridge East Member of Parliament (MP).
    Mohadi on Saturday led legislators from Beitbridge, his wife Tambudzani, a senator and Beitbridge West MP Metrine Mudau and local councilors on a tour of the affected areas and shared time with affected families as well as mobilising food.
    "We can buy food for ourselves but we cannot plan a town, which is the role of government. We are tired of people who come after every disaster to promise. There is a lot of money raised from this town and it is the MPs duty to go at national level and convince government to channel part of that money towards the development of this town," said another angry resident.
    Last week's disaster quickly reminded residents of the cholera outbreak of 2008 and 2009 at Beitbridge in which close to 4 000 lives were lost owing to poor sewer and water reticulation.  local news

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