KAMPALA, UGANDA: Opposition leaders have advised the families of the victims of last weekend’s Mbale city floods to sue the government for negligence leading to the loss of lives. At 23 people lost their lives when several rivers in Mbale including Nabuyonga, Namatala, and Nashibiso burst their banks triggering floods in Mbale city.
The floods also killed several animals and displaced hundreds of people. According to the opposition leaders, the deaths resulting from the flooding would have been avoided if the government through its agencies was vigilant enough to block roads to avoid traffic on the roads that were submerged by the floods.
As a result, Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition has advised the affected families to drag the government to court for failing to protect people’s lives. Mpuuga, who was in Mbale City on Thursday to conduct an impact and needs assessment following the calamity, wondered if the police were in Mbale on the fateful night when people drowned.
John Baptist Nambeshe, the Opposition Chief Whip said that the police slept on the job when they failed to act in time to block traffic on the roads affected by the floods. He said that when the Meteorological Authority issued a warning about the heavy rains, the government never put in place any mitigation measures.
Nambeshe also expressed dissatisfaction with the government for leaving the local people to conduct the rescue efforts and finding the bodies of the flood victims. Wasike David, a resident of Namakwekwe ward in Mbale City Northern Division, who lives near Nabuyonga Bridge told Uganda Radio Network that when the water started filling up his house, he moved out and realized the bridge was flooded.
He notes that he tried calling the police but no one picked up his call. When asked about the number he called, it belonged to the former Mbale City Police Commander, Fred Ahimbisibwe. Mbale City Mayor, Cassim Namugali said that the city is struggling to respond to the disaster since they don’t have enough vehicles for emergency response.
He explains that they only have a single vehicle for the health department and one for enforcement. Abdallah Magambo, the Mbale City Deputy Speaker, says that the government’s intervention in the calamity has been slow. According to Magambo, his electorate is living in water and has nothing left with them except the clothes that they were dressed in at the time of the disaster.