Ivory Coast’s government on Thursday called for the evacuation of all people living in flood-prone zones in Abidjan, the country’s economic hub, after 18 were killed by flash floods triggered by torrential rain.
After a national security council meeting headed by President Alassane Ouattara, the government announced “the destruction of structures on storm basins and drainage and sanitation work” and “the evacuation of all people living in risk zones.”
The statement, read on nationwide TV by Interior Minister Sidiki Diakite, did not say how many people would be affected by these measures or where they would be rehoused.
Floods to 2.5 metres deep raced through some areas on Tuesday as Abidjan was hit by seven hours of exceptional rain.
The affected areas ranged from the posh Cocody neighbourhood, where many embassies and the presidential palace are located, to the teeming working-class Yopougon neighbourhood.
A coastal city of five million, Abidjan suffers from some severe infrastructure problems, including drainage and sewerage.
Many homes are informal structures built in flood-prone areas, and deaths are common in the April to October rainy season. Twenty-eight people were killed on May 29, 1996.
In addition to the 18 deaths in Abidjan, two other people died in flooding in the provinces.
The authorities also said 1 650 troops would be deployed to help clear debris and unclog drains, and $3.4m would be earmarked to help victims.
It also said that efforts would be stepped up to inform the public about flood risk, including weather alerts on the media and by mobile phone.
South Africa Says Ports Remain Open Despite Lockdown
South Africa says its ports remain open to all types of cargo. The department of transport said in a notice shared by the South African maritime safety authority on its website that essential goods are being prioritized where possible.
The notice contradicts communications from port authorities last week that said South Africa’s bulk terminals, would shut for the duration of a 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The government has now decided that all cargo will be accepted for loading and off-loading to ensure a functional supply chain across all ports.
South Africa has the highest number of coronavirus cases in sub-Saharan Africa, and the government is worried that infection rates could get out of hand if the virus starts spreading rapidly in the country’s poor and overcrowded townships. Health minister Zweli Mkhize says “hundreds of thousands” of coronavirus tests will be conducted to understand the true number of infections and halt their spread.
Covid-19 Causes Low Voter Turn Out In Mali
Mali officials are reporting a voter turnout of just 36 percent for the country‘s legislative elections.
Minister of territorial administration, Boubacar Alpha Bah, said on Thursday many chose to stay away from the ballot boxes because of threats of violence and covid-19 pandemic.
Mali went to the polls on Sunday, to elect new lawmakers in an election that has been long delayed over security concerns.
Polling day was marked by several violent incidents in the volatile north and centre, including kidnappings of officials.
Provisional results released on Thursday indicate a leading opposition figure, Soumaila Cissé, was elected in the first round, but also show a second round of voting will be needed in some districts where no candidate won a majority. The results also show many candidates who support president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta will likely face a second round of voting by the middle of this month.
Tanzania Extends Visas For Stranded Tourists
Tanzania’s immigration department says it is approving three-month visa extensions for foreign nationals who can’t leave the country because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Foreign visitors, who applied online, were granted the three-month visa extensions. Residents and holders of other passes, such as exemption certificates and dependent pass holders, have been given a one month extension at no cost.
The immigration department also says, if the pandemic situation persists after the expiry of the extension period, holders would have to report to the main immigration office in Dar Es Salaam. Those who have already surrendered their residence permits or passes have also been urged to report to the main office.
Tanzania has so far reported 20 cases of coronavirus, including one death and two recovered patients. The ministry of health has said it was tracing and monitoring more than 500 individuals who are believed to have had contact with those who have tested positive.
The nation has not suspended international flights and its border crossings are still open, but airlines have suspended flights to the country. Tanzania’s neighbors have also restricted cross-border travel as a precaution to stopping the spread of the virus.
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