– Heavy rains to cause swollen rivers
With heavy downpours continuing unabated during this rainy season, the Addis Ababa City Roads Authority (AACRA) said it is doing emergency cleaning up work on most water drainage and sewage systems clogged by discarded plastic bottles and other types of waste.
Flash floods caused by heavy rains have also turned major roads into puddles and hindered traffic flow in several parts of the capital. As recently witnessed by The Reporter, drivers were caught off guard by the flooding, and some had to remain in their vehicles until the rainwater was fully drained.
However, AACRA officials are saying this would have been worse if it had not been for early work done on some identified problem spots.
AACRA communications head Tumay Woldegebriel told The Reporter: “We have already been engaged in massive cleaning up activities before the start of the rainy season. Our engineers have already identified the major problem areas. Compared to massive transport disruptions flooding used to cause, we have managed to minimize sewerage-related problems a great deal,” he said, adding, “So we are able to avoid potential flood threats that could impact the capital”.
He went on, “The entire drainage system of Addis Ababa is too complex to address within a short period of time. It’s related to the general master plan of the city. It is not something that we can handle as it requires decision of the city government,” he added.
The weather-related mayhem overwhelmed emergency service personnel of the authority who also called on residents of the capital to help in the clean-up of sewerage areas and flash points and at the same time to avoid dumping plastic bottles and other waste along roadways.
Still heavy downpour is in the forecast, and emergency crew are bracing for that, the authority told The Reporter.
Already identified flood-prone areas include Imperial–Hayat Hospital, Bole road, Bole Michael–Saris and Ayer Tenna–Jemmo Michael roads, according to Tumay.
He also indicated that in addition to AACRA crew, over 51 groups have been formed and deployed for emergency response along flood-prone roads in Addis Ababa.
More than 180 km-long roads in the capital have been cleaned over the past five months, and over 45 million birr has so far been allocated for emergency response, according to Tumay.
Parts of Africa Avenue (aka Bole road) were also washed away. Built by a Chinese company a couple of years ago with USD 60 million, this particular roadway has been trumpeted as one bound to change the city’s images while at the same time offering better services in whisking foreign dignitaries to and fro from the Bole International Airport.
Similarly, a highway near Gurd Sholla built the previous year along with the Addis Ababa Light Railway has been fully flooded, preventing flow of traffic as well as pedestrians for an hour or two when it rains.
Though the national meteorology service has been issuing alerts that the current rainy season would be heavier and possibly trigger flash floods in the capital, it is difficult to know with certainty where the flooding would occur. But residents have been alarmed by the potential for severe flooding.
Earlier, the service posted a forecast of 27 to 29 mm of rainfall in some localities of the capital and a flood warning would remain in place until the end of August. The average rainfall in Addis Ababa is usually between 10 to 12 mm, according to information obtain from the meteorology service.
In a related development, alerts have been issued to various parts of the country where more than average rainfall has been forecast.
The service’s warning has also come with a forecast of above-average rainfall during the coming few days that could swell major rivers in the country. Major waterways identified in the warning include Abay, Baro, Omo and Awash rivers.
According to the service, these major rivers could receive excessive water from the expected average and above-average rainfall that could threaten the lives of people living along their banks.
The Ethiopian Meteorology Agency has also advised farmers to watch out for any threats that could emanate from the unprecedented rainfall.