By Patrick Ulele Chikoti, A resident of Area 49
Dear Mayor of Lilongwe City Councillor Dr Desmond Bikoko,
I thank God that we have a new year 2018 before us. I wish you the best in this year realising that you have a huge task to shape this City of Lilongwe with your fellow Councillors and all of us the ‘People of Lilongwe City’ , and that includes me.
My reason for writing my one and only letter to you since God chose you as a Mayor of this beautiful city is not to waste your precious time rather utilise that time effectively on one important issue. I know your leadership task in this City is noble as you lead the City of Lilongwe to prosperity.
I have written this letter to ask for answers to a number of issues on the ‘Floods that happened in Mtandire, Area 49, Area 47’ last year in February. There are so many unanswered questions.
Dr. Bikoko, you may wish to know that my family was one of the affected during the floods on 10 February 2017. As you already know we were not the only family affected by that environmental catastrophe that morning.
The most affected were our brothers and sisters in Mtandire, who are part of the more than 75% of the City’s population and are mostly residing in such disaster prone areas of this City. In our case we were affected but we managed to pull through with support from a number of sources (friends, family, church) , of course from Government as well through food distributions among others. We thank all those who helped.
My main point is on the steps taken by the Lilongwe City Council on the causes of the floods, the preparations for the possible floods this rain season as well as beyond and the communications this far. As a resident of this City and an affected person, just like the rest of the people in Mtandire, Area 49, Area 47 we are yet to know from our Honourable Council what the causes of those floods were.
I understand such information is critical for any person and even the Lilongwe City Council to plan and check what measures to be put in place to avoid future occurrences. Undocumented history is heard that a similar flood of such magnitude happened in 1990.
So, looking at the situation of settlements then and now, we know that due to urbanisation at more than 4.3%, we are increasing the risk of loosing life and property with each passing year. What does this mean then? We have to have a City which is more resilient to a number of issues including floods.
In the case of Lilongwe City we had expected to hear official details on the cause of the flood and then the City Council informing us how we need to avoid future catastrophes. Where need be the Council would have included disaster measures on disaster risk reduction that would have been communicated to us, ‘The People of Lilongwe City’ on time.
I must say that I fault the Lilongwe City Council in the way it is handling this issue of floods. And, with more parts of the City experiencing flash floods I have no doubt you need to engage an extra gear in this area of disaster risk reduction and preparedness your Worship and your fellow members of the Council. It might be that there is something being done but with lack of communication, do not fault us, ‘The People’ for insinuating that you are not doing anything on this issue of disasters in Lilongwe City.
I am someone who believes that it is never too late. Though close to a year now, I still give you, our Mayor Dr. Desmond Bikoko a chance to explain to us, ‘The People of Lilongwe City’ on the cause, the measures you are employing for Lingadzi River potential future floods. My optimism on your communication with solutions, I believe is shared with the rest of the people in Area 49, Mtandire and Area 47.
I have attached a picture to remind us of what happened on 10 February 2017. I am sure those kids who were trapped in those ragging waters, and only saved by some slightly stronger maize stalks, would not want a repeat of what happened to them. And may the souls of those we lost on that fateful day rest in peace (rumours circulate that we lost 9 people in total and most of them were trying to save the two kids in the picture).
Thank you your Worship The Mayor of Lilongwe City, Dr. Desmond Bikoko for sparing your time in reading this. I know you will respond to this the soonest before the next possible loss of life and property in this beloved City of ours, Lilongwe City.