August 19, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese lawmakers today grilled the interior minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid over the government response to heavy rains and floods that hit large areas of the country this month killing dozens and destroying thousands of homes.
- A Sudanese man walks next to a flooded street on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum on August 10, 2013 (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
The MPs described the recent floods as “major calamity” describing that government’s efforts to overcome the crisis as poor that failed to even reach 10% preparation threshold.
Some also warned about the possibility of an environmental disaster following the collapse of 52.000 restrooms besides the growing swarms of flies and mosquitoes.
MP Mahdi Akrad accused the government of building 4.000 residential units in the floodplain and below the hills in Al-Fath town and said he is personally a witness to that,. He also urged those affected to come forward and sue the government.
MP, Abbas Al-Khidir, denounced the official’s aerial inspection of the affected population in Marrabiu al-Sharif, saying that the true leader has to come down and slosh the water with the victims.
He was referring to president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir who inspected the area, alongside the governor of Khartoum state, Abdel-Rahman Al-Khidir, on board a helicopter.
But the interior minister defended Bashir saying that he wanted to land but that the area was full of water.
MP Aisha al-Ghabshawi questioned the spending of millions of pounds collected from citizens by localities and pointed that Khartoum has become one of the dirtiest cities, demanding full investigation on claims of stealing relief materials that was destined to flood victims.
She called for applying Islamic Sharia Law and chopping hands of those proven guilty of seizing aid supplies.
The Sudanese official, however, denied that relief supplies were stolen, saying that they were likely sold to traders by the victims.
He also admitted the existence of engineering defects in all Sudanese cities, acknowledging that waste disposal represents a real challenge to the government.
The minister defended the government and its preparations for the rainy season, saying the finance ministry has provided 20 billion pounds (SDG) to address the damage.
The parliament deputy speaker, Hago Gasm Al-Sid, on his end accused the opposition parties of failing to help ward off the effects of the floods, saying that the only thing they did was to demand the international community declare Sudan a disaster area.
Eight states in Sudan have been hit by flooding triggered by heavy rains that started in early August, damaging schools, health clinics, shops, markets and sanitation facilities.
The hardest hit areas include the states of Khartoum, Gezira, Northern and River Nile.
Last Thursday, the interior minister told reporters that his ministry’s figures show that 53 people were killed, 77 inured, 40,578 families affected, 20,207 homes completely collapsed and 21,999 partially damaged, 3,000 heads of livestock perished and 251 public buildings were impacted that were primarily schools.
But he insisted that the losses so far do not warrant declaring Sudan a "disaster area" which would potentially help solicit more external aid and stressed that the situation is under control.