It has been an unusually busy season of disasters, not only in our region, but the world over. A dam burst in Kenya, sweeping away scores of people, animals and homes.
In Rwanda, River Sebeya broke its banks because of the heavy rains, taking lives, destroying property, and disrupting education as many schools went under water.
The landslides did not spare lives either as the rains pounded heavily. Those familiar with the country’s weather pattern claim that the kind of heavy rains we are experiencing were last seen in the ‘80s.
The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Affairs has had its hands full, bringing succour wherever it was needed. Rwanda’s hilly nature makes it a challenge relocating people from danger zones. It seems that everywhere the slopping hills could come rolling down during heavy rains, that is why preparedness is the keyword.
Nowhere was preparedness and rapid response to disaster exhibited like this week. Landslides swept away sections of one of the country’s most important arteries – the Kigali-Gatuna road that links Rwanda with Uganda.
Within a short while, the Government machinery was set in motion – Government experts were on the ground immediately. They assessed the situation, made decisions right there, and that section of the road would have to be abandoned in favour of a diversion through the hills.
Within 48 hours they had mobilised funds, expropriated people’s property where the new road would pass, brought equipment on site and begun cutting away the mountain. As we go to press, the repairs are more or less complete.
That is the kind of cooperation expected among Government agencies – rapid, coordinated. All the Government agencies involved should be commended for discarding the old bureaucratic tendencies and hitting the ground running. Kudos to all involved.