Roundup: Heavy rains slow down activities in Kenya's capital

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NAIROBI, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- As they left their homes on Monday morning for work, most Kenyans hoped that it does not rain again in the course of the day.

The east African nation is experiencing heavy rains due to climate change, which had caused loss of lives and destruction of property.

The country is witnessing rains of up to 50-100 mm in a day in some areas, according to the Kenya Meteorological Department.

Kenya's capital Nairobi is among areas that have been worst affected, with the city's weak drainage system, exposing residents to floods and destruction.

A number of residential areas and business premises have been flooded, roads rendered impassable and commuters are spending up to four hours in traffic jams for a journey that normally takes less than an hour.

Small business people who sell their wares in open-air markets are counting heavy losses as rains disrupt business activities.

"If it continues like this for the next two weeks, I may not be able to pay rent and cater for my other needs," Beatrice Katusia, who sells secondhand clothes in Kitengela, a suburb on the south of Nairobi, said on Monday.

In the last three days, when the city has experienced very heavy rains, Katusia has barely sold her wares comprising of women attires.

"The rain is causing a lot of misery. You wake up early morning, it is raining. It then stops for a little while and as soon as you display your wares at the stall, it begins," she recounted.

Her pain is being felt by millions of other traders across the capital Nairobi.

The other group that the rains have thrown in the cold include maize roasters, vegetable and grain sellers, food vendors, masons and hawkers.

On normal days, most of such traders make sales of between 1,000 Kenyan shillings (about 10 U.S. dollars) and 2,000 Kenyan shillings.

Away from the traders, city commuters and motorists have to endure heavy traffic jams, some that last the entire day due to floods.

On Monday morning, most roads across the capital were flooded with rainwater as commuters and motorists spend hours in traffic jams before reaching their destinations.

"It took me two hours from Imara Daima south of Nairobi to Upper Hill where I work. The gridlock was one of a kind," said motorist Mercy Nelima, who works with a bank.

Commuters who rely on public transport vehicles commonly known as matatus have to contend with high fares, besides the traffic jams.

When it rains, matatu operators normally raise their charges to compensate for extra time they spend in traffic jams.

The Kenya Meteorological Department has asked residents in Nairobi and other parts of the country that include central, western and Rift Valley to be cautious of flash floods.

At least 60 people have been killed due to the floods and mudslides and thousands of others were displaced since the downpour began in Kenya last month.

Ernest Manuyo, a business lecturer at Pioneer Institute in Nairobi, noted that the unusually heavy rains in Nairobi and other parts of the country lead to a slowdown in economic activities.

"When flooding occurs, a lot of property is destroyed, thus families and businesses have to divert funds to do repairs or relocate to the other areas which slow down business," he said. Enditem

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