At least 176 households in Chipasula, Kaliyeka and Kawale in Lilongwe District have been affected by what now appear to be perennial floods in the district after Chipasula River flooded following heavy rains that fell for at least two hours on Thursday.
The Ministry of Homeland Security has since already come in to assist the affected households with relief items like plastic pails, blankets, plastic sheets and maize.
The portfolio’s minister Nicholas Dausi visited the affected areas on Friday to appreciate the situation.
“Thank God the floods occurred during the day, if it was at night, we could have lost lives,” he said.
He reiterated government’s call for those living and building along Chipasula and other rivers in the country to move to safer places.
Witnesses told Malawi News Agency (Mana) the rains started around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and fell for at least two hours. This forced Chipasula River to flood into people’s houses that have settled along the river.
“As government, we will always come in when the citizens suffer. I also urge you parents not to leave children alone at home as you are going about your errands. You may find them washed away,” warned the minister.
A Chipasula- based 32 year old Doreen Kanyoza who had her 10 bags of cement soaked by water, some kitchen utensils and other items washed away, said it was her 12 year child that alerted her of the swelling river which is a few metres from her house.
“After it had rained for about an hour, my child took an umbrella and went behind the house to relieve himself but saw that the river had swelled and water was nearing the house,” she said.
“We had no choice but to move to a safer place out of the house,” added Kanyoza who had kept her three children away with relatives at the time of interview.
She said last year, she again fell victim of the floods when the house she was living in just close by collapsed.
A resident of Biwi, a location opposite Kaliyeka, John Banda said the massive flow of water in Chipasula River was so immense that several houses near it were submerged.
He said the water was also flowing over the newly rehabilitated Chidzanja Bridge (others call it Kaliyeka), damaging it in the process. The bridge now looks a death trap to motorists as it has developed cracks.
Another Chipasula resident, 70 year old Willam Mazoni who lives opposite Chipasula Secondary School along the road to area 23 attributed the now perennial flooding of the river to those who settled in areas government declared not habitable along the river upstream.
“Lilongwe City had planted trees along the river and declared the area not habitable. But those who came to settle in such areas cut down the trees, leaving the land unprotected,” said Mazoni who has stayed in the area for 16 years.
He added that there was also a big drain that used to lead the run-off from upland into Chipasula River but was blocked, leaving water to flow freely along the rather small drains of the road.
Mazoni, who had his house damaged, sofa set soaked and three bags of maize washed away, said water ambushed him from the back and front of his house reaching window level, but he lost none of his 16-member family.
Meanwhile, councillor for Kaliyeka Ward, Richard Banda has promised to continue sensitizing those that settle along Chipasula River on dangers of such tendencies.
For the past three consecutive years, Lilongwe District has not been spared with floods, mostly affecting Kawale, Chipasula, Mtandile and Kaliyeka.