Rescue agencies on alert as the heavy rains loom

Wednesday April 24 2019


By John Namkwahe @johnteck3

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s rescue agencies said yesterday that they were ready to effectively provide assistance to households, which may be affected by heavy rains and strong winds, which are likely to hit  some coastal regions.
The Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) issued a weather warning on Monday, forecasting that heavy rains, coupled with strong winds, would disrupt fishing and transport activities in Dar es Salaam, Coast, Tanga, Lindi, Mtwara, Unguja and Pemba.
The TMA main weather forecasting station manager, Mr Samwel Mbuya, said in Dar es Salaam that some places, prone to flooding, may also be hit hard between April 23 and 27.
“We forecast heavy rains, strong winds and huge tides on the sea, so residents must prepare for this,” he said. TMA’s forecast seems to concur with one by AccuWeather - an American media company that provides commercial weather forecasting services worldwide.
In its forecast, AccuWeather said yesterday that a new cyclone is likely to hit Lindi, Mtwara and Pemba in Tanzania and Mozambique this week.
The amount of rainfall expected, AccuWeather said, can result in life-threatening flooding and lead to homes being inundated by floodwaters.
“If this depression becomes the next organised tropical cyclone in the South-West Indian Ocean, it would be given the name Kenneth,” said AccuWeather.

Red Cross ready
Following the announcement, the Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) yesterday said it had already notified its branch Disaster Response Teams (BDRTs) in Lindi and Mtwara regions about the forecasted weather, saying it was well prepared to respond immediately.
“Currently, we have what it takes to effectively accommodate at least 1,500 households. We usually provide the affected households with non-food items such as blankets and mattresses,” the TRCS’s public relations officer, Ms Godfrida Jola, told The Citizen yesterday.
She said the agency has also already instructed its branch secretaries in the mentioned regions to closely cooperate with local government authorities and TMA officials to ensure the affected households were well accommodated. TRCS recently trained at least 180 volunteers in Morogoro, Mwanza and Dar es Salaam regions with a particular focus on building their capacities to provide good quality disaster management services, reaffirmed Ms Jola.
“When such disasters occur, we first conduct a thorough assessment to identify the actual damage caused by the disaster before making further interventions. We are, however, often fall short of  resources such as funds and skilled staff,” TRCS organisation development manager Robi Wambura told The Citizen.
The commissioner for operations at Tanzania Fire and Rescue Force, Mr Billy Mwakatage, said the agency was always ready to swing into action should the forecasts come true.
“We have a specific task force, which is responsible for making rescue interventions when such disasters occur,” he said.

Leave flood-prone areas   
Mr Mwakatage asked all people leaving in areas that are prone to floods to leave before disaster strikes.
He further warned that people should avoid using old infrastructures such as bridges and roads, saying such amenities might collapse due to the heavy rainfall and cause casualties, including deaths.
The director of the Disaster Management Department in the Prime Minister’s Office, Colonel Jimmy Matamwe, said the department usually puts in place strategies to combat effects caused by such disasters when they occur in the country.
He added that his office was determined to provide assistance to the households, which would be affected by the expected rains.
Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation (TASAC) said it was contemplating to disseminate an official statement to the public today about the matter and how to tackle the disaster should it happen.
Efforts to reach TASAC’s director general Japhet Loisimaye to give further details were futile.