Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
Incessant rains that have pounded Gweru and surrounding areas since the onset of the rains, have caused massive flooding in residential areas and a number of dams in the Midlands provicnes are already spilling.
Gwenhoro Dam that supplies the city with water, according to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority Zinwa, is now 92 percent full yet it was only 13 percent full in November.
White Waters Dam is now spilling at 102 percent full.
Already tragedy has struck as an Isuzu twin cab with six people on board was swept away by the flooded Gweru River on Sunday morning.
Overspill from Gweru River has resulted in the flooding of suburbs which include Riverside, Athlone and Nashville.
There is also general flooding as a result of the incessant rains which has affected low-lying areas of Mkoba suburb.
The flooding of Mkoba houses has been blamed on previous councils that allocated business and housing stands in wetlands and waterways.
The affected residents said the flooding of their houses had damaged furniture and other properties and called on the council to open blocked storm drains especially in Mkoba 15 and 19.
Some residents said they also lost food and medicines as a result of the flooding.
At around 5pm on Sunday, desperate residents of Riverside suburb along Jacobson Road tried to put barricades on the road to divert water from flowing into their houses.
Mr Samuel Sibanda who was among the residents attempting to block the water from flowing into their houses, said the situation was bad this year because of the incessant rains which had been pounding the city non-stop for days.
“Last year we experienced these floods but the situation was not this bad. Now we are on the road trying to block the water from reaching our houses. It has been raining for the past three hours and we now fear the flash floods will affect us,” he said.
Mr Sibanda who was speaking on behalf of other residents along Jacobson, Dodger Grey roads and Nashville said once Gweru River floods, the runoff goes into their houses.
“If you walk around Athlone, Nashville and Riverside, you will see that a lot of houses have been affected by these flash floods. Others have had to break or destroy part of their precast walls so that water can flow out,” he said.
The Mayor, Councillor Josiah Makombe, joined the group.
With his pair of trousers knee high and bare footed, the mayor experienced what the common residents experience every year when there is flooding.
Mr Sibanda and other affected residents are victims of poor planning by the local authority.
The previous councils allocated land in infills which were waterways or wetlands.
As a result, runoff has nowhere to flow and ends up flooding residents’ houses.
In an interview, Clr Makombe said low lying suburbs in the city were hit by flash floods on Sunday following a heavy downpour which lasted almost three hours and covered the whole city.
The flash floods have become common in Gweru.
“As Mayor of Gweru I plead with our residents to be very cautious during this rainy season. We have seen houses flooding in most low-lying areas like Athlone, Nashville, Riverside, Lingfield, Mkoba 3,6,4 and7 among other suburbs. Reidents should get hold of our offices if there is flooding in their area,” said Clr Makombe.
He said workers have since been deployed to the affected areas to clear storm drains.
“We engaged some casual workers to clear blocked storm drains and our target is to cover the whole city in the next three months,” said Clr Makombe.
He accused previous councils of allocating residential and commercial stands in wetlands and waterways.
“In some cases housing stands were allocated on wetlands and we are trying to come up with mechanisms to avoid such flooding in those areas,” said Clr Makombe.