Demolitions of structures on waterways the only solution to Nairobi Floods

Nairobi Floods are back without a warning. I was particularly surprised to see cars submerge in Nairobi Roads and later to learn that hawkers are (and this is not a joke) selling boats right within the CBD. A video has also surfaced showing how commuters are struggling to alight from matatus to use uncouth hastily constructed wooden bridges to cross over the flooded roads.

As the Nairobi Floods continue to wreak havoc in the city, several people have directed blames to Nairobi Governor Dr. Evans Kidero for not paying attention to the drainage systems whereas several others are busy asking Nairobians to be considerate and stop littering the city every opportunity they get. A few though have gone to the extent of recommending to the Government to do what is necessary – to demolish all structures, small and big, peasant and multibillion worth, that stand along the waterways right from theĀ westernĀ parts of Nairobi to the easternĀ parts of Nairobi.

According toĀ Water Resources and Hydrology Engineer, Eng. Tom Ogol, “the natural drainage system of the greater Nairobi drains eastwards i.e. water flowing from the West (Kawangware,Kileleshwa,Westlands, Parklands) and from the South (Rongai, Ngong road,Kibera, Karen, Langata) have to find their way to Athi river through the Nairobi national park. South C and Industrial area are convergence zones for several small tributaries that drain into the the park as well.” Ā A quick drive around the Southern parts of Nairobi starting from Nairobi West to most parts of Langata Road and Mombasa road reveal that there are hundreds of high rise buildings that have been constructed along the waterways that have played a huge role in blocking the natural course of water flow. To resolve the Nairobi Floods perennial problems, these buildings must be brought down – now.

Eng. Tom Ogol also recommended for other flood control measures and these include:

  • Re-evaluate all physical developments around riparian zones and stop all developments along the remaining waterways/wetlands,
  • Upgrade, to the best level possible, current drainage structure and system
  • Flood proofing inhabited regions of the city with high vulnerability to population
  • Proper disposal and management of solid wastes that end up clogging infrastructure
  • If all the above cannot be implemented, find ways of decongesting the city – decentralize essential citizen services to other counties and similarly enable economic and growth opportunities to those regions.

On the last point above, some of my friends have recommended that Kenya needs to relocate the capital city from Nairobi to other towns like Isiolo or Garissa, or follow South Africa in having several capital cities – where we can have an administrative capital in a city like Isiolo, judicial capital in another city like Eldoret, legislative capital in another city like Machakos, and Nairobi and Mombasa become developed as commercial capitals due to their land and sea ports respectively.

The current Nairobi Floods causing havoc everywhere have been described as a 1 in 10 year rain event, meaning the magnitude of rainfall currently being experienced happens, probabilistically, every 10 years. There is however a chance that even a bigger event that happens only once in 100 years can happen any year with a probability of 0.01. When such an event occurs then the “rain event will be enough to make area covered by Upper Hill, Community, Kenyatta Hospital be an Island and rest of Nairobi submerged”, explained Eng Ogol.


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