Floods have hampered rescue and recovery mission in the three villages hit by landslides in Pokot South Constituency, West Pokot County.
A group of locals and few government officials on the ground watched helplessly as the body of a woman they had retrieved was snatched from their hands by ranging floods. A police chopper was unable to land near the affected area due to poor weather, forcing the pilot to return to Nairobi. A military chopper carrying food and medical supplies is expected to land in the area today. A team led by West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and County Commissioner Apollo Okello were stranded for hours at Sepit, 10km from Nyarkulian where many people have been affected.
Deadly Blessings – Pokot County Prof Lonyangapuo described the landslide as the worst disaster that has ever happened in the region. The governor regretted that the county has a hilly terrain and efforts to connect most regions had been reversed after floods swept away four bridges that were constructed using millions of shillings. “The devastating landslide has also swept away billions of shillings worth of investment by the government and other partners after it swept away acres of irrigation projects spread across the region. This is a major setback to development of the county,” Prof Loyangapuo said at the destroyed Muruny bridge.
The governor urged residents living in higher regions to move to safer grounds to avert disaster. He also appealed to the national government to intervene and boost rescue and recovery efforts. In a statement, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said rescue and recovery efforts are ongoing and are being led by the Rift Valley regional security committee in collaboration with other government and humanitarian agencies.
“At about 2.30 this morning, heavy down pour affecting parts of West Pokot County and subsequent landslides were reported, causing death and destruction in the area,” he said. Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) warned motorists plying the Lodwar-Kitale Highway to excise caution. The heavy downpour on Friday night cut off the Kitale-Kapenguria to Lodwar and South Sudan road. “Following the downpour being experienced in Turkana County, KeNHA would like to issue a traffic alert on the cut-off of the A1 highway at Ortum and Sebit,” KeNHA said in a statement issued yesterday. KeNHA acting Assistant Director, Corporate Communication Clara Ouko said that a team from the North Rift regional offices had been dispatched to restore the two sections. West Pokot county meteorology director Wilson Lonyangole had earlier warned that parts of the county were at risk of landslides.