The torrential rain that battered Kigali and the surrounding districts at the weekend has left residents of the city and the surrounding suburbs wary, saying it has been “many years since they experienced such a downpour.”
The rain, last Saturday evening, came with gusty wind and hailstorm, felling several trees and leaving many houses roofless, and infrastructure such as billboards on their sides.
Claudine Muhayimpundu, a mother of three from Ruhango cell, Gisozi sector in Gasabo district, said it was the worst rain she had experienced in life.
Muhayimpundu, whose house’s roof was blown off, said they were eight in the house when the rain started falling.
“I was cooking and told children to go inside the house as it seemed it was going to rain, moments later, I saw the roof of my house flying off,” she said.
Muhayimpundu said she managed to evacuate the children to safety.
“But the whole property we had was damaged, the house was flooded, all the items; chairs, TV set, radio and other electrical appliances were damaged,” she said.
To repair the house, she said, it will cost the family more than Rwf2 million, which she said is hard to get as it was unplanned.
“In the country’s history, I think it is one of the deadliest rain; very windy and heavy that it carried stones and houses, killing people and damaging property, including cars, and uprooting trees,” said another affected resident, Jean Bosco Twahirwa.
Twahirwa is currently looking for more than Rwf3 million to repair his house.
Authorities put the number of deaths at six, including three people, who were travelling in a car that was washed into a trench. At least 915 houses were destroyed in Kigali, according to city mayor Fidele Ndayisaba
He said 452 of the houses are in Nyarugenge district. Gasabo district registered 321 damaged houses, while Kicukiro had 142.
According to the mayor, authorities have identified 188 houses owned by vulnerable people who seem unable to rehabilitate them on their own. He said the city council will extend a helping hand to the vulnerable.
Meanwhile, MTN-Rwanda has donated more than 1,800 iron sheets and nails to support vulnerable victims left homeless by the downpour.
MTN officials said the donation, worth Rwf10 million, is part of their corporate social responsibility.
To heighten readiness for the forthcoming rainy reason, Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi urged institutions, including the ministries of Internal Security and Disaster Management and that of Infrastructure to ensure warning mechanisms are in place to minimise damage from disasters.
The premier, who was speaking at a meeting of stakeholders preparing for the rainy season, also urged the Ministry of Infrastructure to contain the waters from Nyabarongo River, which fills up and floods Nyabugogo.
The meeting concluded that the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees relocate more than 1,516 households living in high-risk zones in Kigali City.