Heavy Rains Submerge Nairobi Expressway, Causing Widespread Flooding

Heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in Nairobi, Kenya, stranding commuters and damaging infrastructure, including the newly constructed Nairobi Expressway. At least one person died, and 17 bridges were affected, with reconstruction efforts already underway.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Heavy Rains Submerge Nairobi Expressway, Causing Widespread Flooding

Heavy Rains Submerge Nairobi Expressway, Causing Widespread Flooding

Nairobi, Kenya, is struggling to cope with the aftermath of heavy downpours that occurred on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, causing severe flooding on the newly constructed Nairobi Expressway and other major roads in the capital city. The deluge left commuters stranded and brought traffic to a standstill, with water levels reaching knee-deep in some areas.

The flooding in Nairobi highlights the vulnerability of urban infrastructure to extreme weather events, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change. As cities continue to grow and urbanization increases, the need for resilient urban planning and flood management strategies becomes critical to mitigate the impact of such events.

The flooding wreaked havoc across Nairobi, affecting not only the Expressway but also city roads, petrol stations, and other highways. The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) directed the temporary closure of petrol stations inundated by the floods, citing the risk of compromised fuel quality. EPRA stated, "Floods can damage petroleum underground storage tanks, compromising the quality of products dispensed to motorists."

The heavy rains claimed at least one life in the Mukuru kwa Ruben slums and destroyed numerous roads and bridges. Speaking at the Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja addressed the flood's impact, stating, "We have 17 bridges that were affected by floods, and I can confirm to you, Mr. President, that as we speak now, the reconstruction of those bridges has started to make sure our children can be able to go to school and cross over with ease."

The flooding caused significant disruptions across the city. A petrol station near T Mall along Raila Odinga Way was marooned by the rising waters, while the Lang'ata Road roundabout intersection was submerged. Five workers found themselves trapped for over 12 hours at Karatasi Industry along Enterprise Road before being rescued. The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) announced the closure of a section of Thika Road at Kahawa Sukari Drift between Kahawa Barracks and Kenyatta University as a result of the flooding.

Why this matters: Rail transportation was also affected by the deluge, with a train plying the Nairobi-Nanyuki route held up by floods near the Bidco area for hours. The Juja bridge underpass was inundated, causing a massive traffic snarl-up extending from Kimbo area to Juja town.

Governor Sakaja, acknowledging the challenges faced by Nairobi residents, highlighted the importance of President William Ruto's affordable housing initiative in light of the flooding. "I think the public now appreciates even more the efforts that President William Ruto is making towards affordable housing, which will be of great help," Sakaja remarked.

The flooding on the Nairobi Expressway and other parts of the city highlights the vulnerability of Kenya's infrastructure to extreme weather events. As climate change intensifies rainfall patterns, the need for robust flood management and resilient urban planning becomes increasingly critical. Governor Sakaja confirmed that reconstruction efforts have begun on the 17 bridges affected by the floods to ensure children can safely travel to school.

Key Takeaways

  • Heavy rainfall causes severe flooding in Nairobi, Kenya, affecting major roads and infrastructure.
  • Flooding highlights vulnerability of urban infrastructure to extreme weather events due to climate change.
  • At least one life lost, 17 bridges damaged, and multiple roads and petrol stations affected.
  • Reconstruction efforts underway to repair damaged bridges and infrastructure.
  • Flood management and resilient urban planning critical to mitigate impact of extreme weather events.