Mtwara residents allowed to go back home but threat from storm still looms large
By Deodatus Mfugale
Dar es Salaam Tanzania
April 25, 2019
MORE than 5,000 Mtwara town residents who had left their homes early today to avoid the forecasted catastrophic impacts of Tropical Storm Kenneth have been allowed to go back to their homes but stay alert for any signs of the storm gaining momentum.
Mtwara regional authorities had sheltered the residents in six centres as a safety measure against the tropical storm after the Tanzanania Meterological authorities had forecast the storm would make a landfall in Mtwara by noon on Thursday. The weather authority had warned that the storm would lead to heavy floods and destroy various infrastructures, thereby threatening human life. However by 16hrs, about four hours after the forecast landfall, neither strong winds nor heavy rains were experienced.
The Regional Defense and Security Committee thus allowed the residents to go home but warned that they should be alert as the situation could change. The government leaders would keep the public informed of in case of any developments.
“The weather has been generally calm contrary to the forecast. By 15hrs the wind speed was 50 kph as opposed to 140kph which the weather authority had forecast. We believe it is safe enough for you to go back home and engage in your daily businesses,” said Mtwara Regional Commissioner Gelacius Byakanwa but was quick to warn the residents to be alert for any changes in the weather. “But it is not yet over! The storm is still there and things might change. So be on the lookout and tune to the news media for any development. We have also arranged for a public address system that will be employed to inform you immediately should any changes happen,” explained the Regional Commissioner.
However according to the Director of TMA, Dr Agnes Kijazi, Tropical Storm Kenneth was still active 177 kilometres away from Mtwara, gaining speed from 130kph to 140 kph and heading towards Mozambique. “So things are far from over. The storm is drawing heavy clouds over many areas in the southern part of the country and these areas are likely to get very heavy rain. The public should take precautions as the dangers posed by Tropical Storm Kenneth are still valid,” she said.
According t the Director, the storm will make a landfall in Mozambique early Friday morning, about 230 kilometres away from Mtwara with winds blowing at 100kph. “The fact that it is heading to Mozambique does not mean that we are out of danger; the landfall will affect areas about 600 kilometres away which means Mtwara and Lindi regions are not out of danger yet. The public must still take all the necessary precautions as that we have announced for the past three days,” she said, adding that Kenneth is the most severe tropical storm to hit Tanzania’s coastal area.
Yet even before the all-clear signal was given by the Mtwara Regional Defense and Security Committee, some fishermen had already gone out to sea and returned with a reasonable catch by 16hrs. “We know the danger but the ocean is where we get our daily bread; if we don’t go there then there is no income and no food for us. We have to take risks,” said one of the fishermen. Women fishmongers were at the landing sites to meet them and buy the catch.