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200 marooned in Tsholotsho

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MORE than 200 Tsholotsho families in Matabeleland North risk being displaced by floods that have destroyed several homesteads and left livestock dead while schooling has been severely affected in the district.

NQOBANI NDLOVU/
STEPHEN CHADENGA

Matabeleland North provincial chairperson of the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) Latiso Dlamini told Southern Eye yesterday in a telephone interview that the worst affected areas were Gariya and Sipepa villages.

Only last week scores of villagers from Butabubili in Tsholotsho had to be rescued by an Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) helicopter as flooding enveloped low lying plains cutting off road access.

“So far, we have not recorded any deaths since the heavy rains began, but over 200 families are currently marooned in Gariya and Sipepa owing to the rising water levels due to the torrential rains,” Dlamini said.

She said the torrential rains had left a trail of destruction razing some homesteads to the ground, killing livestock, destroying crops and preventing children from going to school.

Dlamini said some villagers were reportedly deserting their homes fearing they could be swept away by the flash floods.

She said the CPU was on high alert in case of emergencies to prevent deaths caused by the flooding, adding that they had also managed to help communities that were affected by floods with basic necessities.

“We are closely monitoring the situation. The CPU and its support agencies have managed to assist affected villagers with food and clothing, among other basic necessities,” Dlamini said, adding that if water levels continued to rise, Gariya and Sipepa villagers would have to be evacuated.

She said villagers were being advised to move to higher ground to avoid being swept away by the floods as the Meteorological Services Department has predicated more heavy rains in the coming days, spelling more danger for the flood prone Tsholotsho district.

Meanwhile, the incessant rains that have lashed most parts of the country have left a trail of destruction in Mberengwa destroying roads and bridges leading to the district’s major hospitals.

Roads leading to Mnene, Musume and Jacker hospitals were seriously damaged by the heavy rains making them inaccessible.

Teachers and pupils have been cut off from Chegato High School in Masese, Mberengwa, after low lying bridges were swept away.

A teacher at Chegato, Onwell Chiponda, said access to the school had been difficult as a result of flooded rivers and destruction of bridges.

“Reporting for duty since the beginning of last week was impossible after rivers were flooded and bridges were destroyed,” Chiponda said. The rains have also cut off Mberengwa from Zvishavane as the road has been badly damaged and motorists are now using the Gwanda route to get to Mberengwa.

Mberengwa West MP and Zanu PF chief whip in the National Assembly Joram Gumbo has called on the CPU to respond urgently to flood-hit areas in his constituency.

“When people fail to access health facilities because road have been eroded, then we have a disaster in our hands. There is need for an urgent response to the matter,” he said.

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