Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Eighty three perished in fire, floods this year

photo: Anteneh Aklilu

According to the Addis Ababa City Fire, Emergency Prevention and Rescue Agency’s annual report, 83 people were killed in the city from floods and fires. Holes from construction sites contributed to another 88 people being injured. Flooding and fires damaged many shops and homes causing a loss of 408.4 million birr.
In total there were 535 floods and fires this fiscal year. This included the fire that damaged 140 shops near the Grand Anwar Mosque in Mercato causing 57 million birr in property damage.
Two weeks ago a pregnant woman and her two children drowned when they were trapped by flood waters while washing clothes by a river in Asko. Police have yet to find their bodies.
Poor safety management of construction sites means that floods are increasing according to the report. Bole Sub- City, one of the most affluent places, had 83 incidents while Adiss Ketema and Kolfe had 65 and 64 accidents respectively.
In the previous fiscal year 531 accidents occurred in the city, snatching the lives of 83 people  and injuring 119. Negatu Mulu, Communications officer told Capital that helicopters and boats should be purchased because they could be used to save lives.
“Two weeks ago there were floods in Akaki and it took hours to borrow boats and helicopters from defense forces and later the helicopters came but we did not manage to rescue people and finally our rescue workers swam and saved the people’s lives. If we had a helicopter and boats we could manage our service when big fires occur.”
A recent study by the Agency disclosed that 121,000 households across all sub- cities and 1,000 government and private institutions are vulnerable to flood disasters. The study identified 143 places as high risk and stated that if the necessary relocation or reconstruction is not made soon disasters may kill thousands and damage 4.5 billion birr in property. Many of the risky places are found in Gullele and Nifas Silke Sub city where there are homes near river and drainage sites.
Riversides in Addis Ababa have been a source of worry for residents. They have been dogged by landslides, pollution and lack of development for ages. But due to a spate of development activities, that might change soon.
The research found that Addis Ababa Rivers and riversides face problems which include: badly polluted segments through direct discharge of domestic waste generated mainly from households and institutions; river bank erosion; and inaccessible rivers and riversides.