By Mbekezeli Ncube
INCISIVE workmanship by the Hwange Local Board (HLB) has seen a section of houses in Empumalanga high density suburb, which was previously susceptible to floods for close to 40 years, being spared the calamity this season.
HLB town secretary Pastor Ndumiso Mdlalose said the local authority was leaving no stone unturned in its quest to curb flooding within its locality.
“Through effective utilisation of the funds we were allocated by Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA), we managed to carry out extensive routine maintenance work.
“We cleared storm drains as well as widening water courses in some areas,” he said.
Last year, the local authority was given $2,2 million by ZINARA.
Mdlalose said HLB would utilise much of the funding to be allocated to it by ZINARA this year towards redesigning and construction of permanent storm water drainages.
HLB town engineer Philip Nguni said residents whose homes were prone to perennial flooding have commended the local authority for its sterling work in averting the catastrophe.
“We have been getting positive reports from residents whose houses were previously prone to floods. They are appreciative of the work we managed to do.
“That’s an indication that we managed to curb flooding in the affected area. We classified the affected homes as red zones and came up with a robust approach to curtail the flooding problem,” he said.
The local authority successfully cleared storm drains and widened a water course behind a section of houses in Empumalanga before the onset of the rain season.
HLB also cleared the 1 200-millimetre diameter culverts on one of the suburb’s major roads that had been barricading the flow of water for the past few years, leading to flash floods.
Before the implementation, about 10 houses were perennially affected by floods.
“With assistance from casual workers, we managed to clear storm water drains, unblock culverts and create water way channels to enable water to follow a defined storm water drainage,” said Nguni.
He said the local authority was still on the look-out for other areas that may be vulnerable to floods.
“The engineering department is working right round the clock to eradicate flooding challenges. It’s an on-going process. There are still a few households we feel might be prone to floods. We intend to improve our storm water drains as well as resuscitate silted drains,” said Nguni.
He also appealed to residents to refrain from throwing litter into storm water drains to avoid blockages.
“We are making a passionate plea to residents to desist from throwing garbage onto storm water drains or water courses as this leads to accumulation of litter culminating to culverts and trench blockages. During the clearing exercise we realised that most of the litter was mostly disposable sorghum beer plastic containers,” said Nguni.
One elderly Empumalanga resident, Joseph Hove whose house has over the years been affected by floods, heaved a sigh of relief after being spared the nightmare despite torrential rains received in Hwange.
“I built this house in 1981 and since then I have been a victim of floods due to poor drainage. Each time when others are enjoying torrential rains, to me, it will be agonising as all my household property would be submerged.
“This time, we received a lot of rains for some days and I was not too sure if the work I saw being carried out would save us from the floods, but we didn’t experience any.
“Council officials promised to come up with a lasting solution to this problem,” he said.
The Councillor of the affected area acknowledged that the challenge of flooding dates back about 40 years ago.
“The challenge of floods has been there since the 1980s. I vividly remember some of the serious ones in that particular section were in 2014 and 2020.
“It’s really an issue of concern. Lives might be lost if adequate measures are not taken to solve the problem,” said ward six Councillor Andrew Mupande.
A few houses in the medium density suburb of Chibondo are also susceptible to floods.