ZANZIBAR: ZANZIBAR President, Dr Hussein Mwinyi has said the government plans to improve the drainage systems by constructing tunnels with high capacity of collecting rain water and invest in rain harvesting technology to control devastating floods.
“We need to have proper tunnels with high capacity of collecting rain water in some areas of the isles … we are also thinking about harvesting rainwater for domestic use. This will definitely end or reduce the impact of rain water during heavy downpour,” Dr Mwinyi said.
The President made the remarks here on Tuesday after visiting areas affected by floods which have affected houses and farms, damaging properties following heavy downpour recorded from November 1 this year. Most areas in Unguja West District, where there are several huge ponds and wetlands, were hard hit by the floods.
He said there are countries that have lakes and rivers and water in wetlands which they use to benefit people for domestic use after proper treatment.
“Let us also learn from best practices. We have some wetlands and huge ponds in which during the rainy season are filled with water, leading to floods causing damage to properties and death. The government will hire experts to advise us accordingly on how best to utilize the ponds,” he said.
He also said during rainy season, there is a lot of water which can be harvested, cleaned and used in homes. He comforted flood victims, saying it is unacceptable to face the same problem every year without serious interventions.
Dr Mwinyi said that the World Bank back up to ‘Zanzibar Urban Services Project (ZUSP)’ was a good attempt to construct huge tunnels in the areas of the city, but they have not addressed the challenge completely, “We need to think beyond to find a permanent solution.”
“In many places I visited, the problem is that the drainage system either doesn’t exist, or is poorly constructed, small, or blocked with litter. All these problems can be avoided to stop floods,” he said.
The president visited Kibonde-mzungu area where floods occur annually, pledging to work on the challenge, “But with any decision to be taken by the government, full cooperation of the people remains crucial to achieve the goal.”
Reckless and unauthorised construction of houses and walls and littering the environment with wastes, are some of the problems that block running water, leading to floods.
He directed the municipalities and the Ministry of Lands to stop issuing permits indiscriminately and instead, before issuing the documents, inspection must be conducted in collaboration with officers from the Zanzibar Disaster Commission to ensure that it prevents unauthorised construction.
Dr Mwinyi tasked the commission to widen its scope of responsibilities, “Do not just wait for disasters to make you work, work with other authorities to prevent risks or risk causes”
For his part, Minister of State- Second Vice President Office, Policy, Coordination and the House of Representatives, Mr Hamza Hassan Juma, promised to implement the directives to control floods.
He said there are flood prone areas that people must accept to clear the way for water, “It is unfortunate that people built houses in these areas and are reluctant to leave.”
Both the Minister and the Unguja Urban-West Regional Commissioner Mr Idrissa Kitwana Mustafa, thanked the president for sparing time to visit flood hit areas and also to comfort the victims.
Other places President Mwinyi visited include Bububu, Kibweni, Kwa-mzushi, Sebleni, Kwa-mtumwa geni, Ziwa Maboga where he comforted the family of the late Abubakar Abdalla Abukar (25), a resident of Sebleni who was one of the flood victims.