Residents vacate homes as Kenneth slowly lands in Mtwara
By Deodatus Mfugale
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Hundreds of Mtwara town residents and its environs have vacated their homes to relocate to safer places before Tropical Storm Kenneth makes a landfall in Mtwara town in the afternoon today. By 6.00am today, light showers had started falling in the town and its outskirts as the wind also became stronger by the hour. Most of those who moved to safer places have their homes located close to shore, thus most vulnerable to the negative impacts of the tropical storm.
The Mtwara Municipal Director Col. Emmanuel Mwaigobeko identified safe areas that people should move to as Mtwara airport,Majengo, and Tandika Primary schools, Naliendele army camp and Mitego and Sabodo secondary schools. “ All schools should remain closed. Employees should not go to work today and all should move to safe areas as directed. Do not take anything with you,” he stressed.
Earlier the Tanzanania Meteorological Authority Manager for the Southern Zone Daudi Amasi had identified vulnerable areas from which people should vacate as including, Mikindani, Mtepwezi, Kiyanga, Kiyangu, Chuno, Miseti, Skoya and Rreli all of which are close to the shore. ”These are the areas that will probably be most hit by the storm. People must vacate their homes very early in the morning,” he warned, adding that people in other areas must also move to safe places.
The Mtwara regional Commissioner Gelacius Byakanwa also warned Mtwara residents, particularly fishermen to stay away from the ocean the whole day today until the situation normalized.”This warning also applies to all those who use vessels for purposes other than fishing. Please stay away from the ocean,” the RC warned.
A resident of Mtwara town Abdallah Mbangile said in an interview that by 8.00 this morning the wind had started to gain strength and there were light showers.” We are leaving our homes and I am relocating to the airport for safety,” he said. However, not everyone heeded to the warning given by the leaders. “Some people are reluctant to leave their places; maybe they don’t realize the danger that goes with storms,” explained Mbangile.
A journalist working for Safari Radio in Mtwara town, Baraka Jamal said that there were light showers early in the morning and a weak wind. “There was a bit of wind at night but then it died off. Right now (8.15 am) there is a bit of wind, a weak one. Maybe it will pick up soon,” he said.
According to the journalist all offices have been closed for today and residents have been seen relocating to places identified by the government leaders. Media houses, the police, the army and hospital staffs are the only departments that have been allowed to operate. “Our offices are located very close to the ocean but we have to be on duty in order to inform people on what is going on regarding the storm,” he said.
Yet there are people who are stubborn and have gone about to their duties. “Some people from other departments reported for duty but were sent off by their leaders. Fishermen are also difficult people; they think they know the ocean better than anyone else and have defied the warning sounded by the leaders. Some of them have gone out fishing,” explained Jamal.
According to the Tanzania Meteorological Authority, Tropical Storm Kenneth is expected to make a landfall in Mtwara from 12.00 noon and climax at 14hrs. The storm will travel at about 80kph in Mtwara and Lindi regions of southern Tanzania and all modes of transport will be affected. Road transport infrastructure is likely to be severely damaged. The storm would also affect areas as far as 500 kilometres from Mtwara.