Heavy rains pound Harare

HARARE - Heavy rains and strong winds caused havoc in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare and surrounding areas yesterday bringing down electric pylons and trees, creating an unprecedented traffic jam.

The afternoon hailstorm followed a particularly hot day and clogged the central business district whose drainage is in a state of disrepair, consequently causing flash floods.

The Meteorological department could not immediately comment saying they would only give a statement in due course after carrying out research.

Yesterday’s torrential rains uprooted trees and flooded some houses.

The torrential rainfall reduced visibility, making it hard for motorists to drive, with some forced to park their vehicles and wait until the rains subsided.

Apart from limited visibility, gusty winds also caused blackouts in some areas as the 30-minute downpour pounded the streets, sending people scurrying for cover in sheds.

Sensing a crisis and eager to cash in, commuter omnibus operators also increased their fares.

For instance, fares for a trip to Chitungwiza from Harare went up from $1 to $1,50 while those who live in the vicinity of the capital saw fares doubled from $0,50 to a dollar.

For some motorists, the rains were a disaster, as traffic blocked roads following the torrent.

Changing rainfall patterns, which have made it difficult to predict flooding, have had adverse effects on Zimbabwe.

Not only has this season’s rains affected more than 6 000 families who have lost their properties and in some cases livelihoods, but also 30 people have been killed since January, according to the Civil Protection Unit (CPU).

CPU, a government body tasked with disaster management and response, says the recent floods have left thousands of livestock dead, while swollen rivers have swept away bridges and claimed lives.

Low lying areas such as Muzarabani have been hit hardest by the unusual rains prompting government to airlift some families to safety.

The rains have also damaged roads and swept away bridges.

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