Residents living in fear of deadly landslides as rains beckon

Wednesday, October 4th, 2023 09:30 | By
Baringo landslides. PHOTO/Print

As the country prepares for El-Nino rains, villagers in Timboiywo, Baringo county, which is known for deadly landslides are living in fear.

During the heavy downpour experienced 10 years ago, the calamity which swept through the breath-taking slopes of the Tugen Hills buried two people alive and rendered more than  5,000 others homeless and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.

The landslides caused cracks on the walls and floors of some houses which are still visible to date.

A spot-check by People Daily  revealed that several shops at Timboiywo Trading Centre have also been closed down with some investors fearing that their investments will be washed away by heavy rains or be buried by landslides. Their fears have been aggravated by the expected El-Nino rains expected later this month.

Hannington Bungei is one of the residents who may soon be forced to close down his business as one of the walls of his shop has already developed c racks.

“The government keeps telling us to vacate the area but this is the only place we have called home. Where are we expected to go to?” said Bungei.

The residents said that they were willing to move from the area on condition that the government makes proper arrangement for their resettlement.

Besides pulling down buildings, the landslides have, in the past, also destroyed part of Kabarnet -Tenges Road cutting off the area from the rest of the county. Some residents have resorted to be accommodated by relatives to avoid the wrath of the natural phenomenon.

Gilbert Kibarus is one of them. He has left behind his two-acre piece of land where he had lived since childhood and sought refuge at his brother’s house in Kabasis but the landslides are feared to extend to as far as Kituro area some kilometres from Kabarnet town.

“The landslides usually occur at night during heavy rains. It is so scary to live here because we do not know what will happen next. We fear for the worst during the El-Nino rains,”said Kibarus.

Timboiywo primary and secondary school, a local dispensary and power lines are also threatened by the natural phenomenon.

A geological official from the Rift Valley provincial headquarters in Nakuru confirmed to People Daily that the area has many fault electricity lines.

“Surface fault raptures occur when an earthquake breaks the earth’s surface. Such raptures result in localized but intense devastation,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

He warned that Timboiywo residents risk suffering the same fate and it would be wise for them to move out of the area before a magnitude disaster strikes.

The residents risk electrocution as the power lines could start fires if they are brought down by the landslides. This could also result to disruption of power supply to Tenges and Kabarnet towns.

Kimoi Kiplagat,12, a pupil at Kabirmoi Primary School was among those buried alive during the deadly landslides 10 years ago.

The government estimates that more than 44 other families were still at risk of being engulfed by the landslides in the area.

People Daily established that water levels at Lake Baringo has also been rising at an alarming rate with over 5,000 people living near the lake risk being displaced from their homes with the anticipated El-Nino rains.

Residents in landslide and flood prone areas in the North Rift have since been put on high alert by the Directorate of Disaster and Risk Management (DRM) with the expected heavy downpour.

The department cautioned residents and institutions in risk areas to be careful and if need be, move to higher grounds and safe areas to avoid loss of lives, livestock, displacement and properties.

The department cited areas at risk of floods in Baringo South as:  Ng’ambo, Murda, Leswa, Salabani and Sintaan while those at risk in Mogotio are: Mugurin,Molosirwe,Kapcheluguny,Sirwa,Kisanana and Mogotio town.

Those living along the Tugen hills including: Tenges,Tulwongoi, Kibonjos, Kabasis, Timboiywo, Kiptagich, Kituro,Tiloi,Kabartonjo, Tiriondonin,Kaimugul Kuikui have also been advised to take early precautions against floods and landslides.

According to East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano, ASALS are likely to be more vulnerable to El-Nino rains due to the terrain and the impact of five consecutive failed rains.

The counties expected to experience heavy rains include: Marsabit, Turkana, Baringo,Samburu, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Kilifi, Kwal, Taita Taveta, Mandera, Narok and Isiolo.

Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot on the other hand are likely to experience landslides.

Miano said the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has since August conducted El-Nino preparedness consultations in all the 23 counties classified as ASALs.

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