What you need to know:
- Mr Wambua confirmed that the dam currently has 2.53 meters remaining before spillage.
- Water Resources Authority has also warned that parts of Lodwar town near Turkwel River risk being submerged.
- Mr Shurie said that lives could be lost if residents living downstream do not move to higher grounds.
- County Director of Disaster Management Vincent Palor said that a technical team has been formed to develop a contingency plan.
Turkana County Commissioner Muthama Wambua has warned adamant residents living near the banks of River Turkwel of imminent massive destruction and displacement, noting that the Turkwel Dam is nearing its spillage level of 1,150 meters above sea level.
Mr Wambua confirmed that the dam — which had only 3.96 meters remaining before spillage on September 4 — currently has 2.53 meters remaining (by October 12), adding that with the ongoing heavy rains in the Mt Elgon catchment area, there could be a sudden spillage of water.
He said that together with Governor Josephat Nanok, they have toured various high-risk villages appealing to residents to vacate the low lying areas along River Turkwel.
"I am surprised that some people who accepted to move to higher grounds during our assessment visit early this month have gone back to grounds that are currently at risk of flooding. Most residents are neither fishermen nor farmers but they don't want to move to safe grounds," Mr Wambua said.
Water Resources Authority (WRA) has also warned that parts of Lodwar town near Turkwel River risk being submerged if the ongoing heavy rains persist and result in spillage from Turkwel Dam.
WRA Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Shurie said that lives could be lost if residents living downstream do not move to higher grounds.
"More than 300,000 people, mostly in Turkana County, will be directly affected. Residents of high-risk areas like Katilu, Kalemnyang, Loyapat, Nakwomoru, Lodwar town and Ferguson Bay should move to higher grounds to avoid possible drowning," Mr Shurie said.
However, Lodwar Township MCA Robert Lowoko explained that the reason many residents are hesitant to move to higher grounds is that authorities led by Governor Nanok's administration have not directly allocated land to resettle villagers who are living near the river.
Mr Lowoko said that he is aware that Lodwar Township and Kanam Kemer wards will be badly affected by the impending disaster but many residents do not know where to move to.
"Turkana county government should be working on modalities of preventing possible deaths, losses and destruction by preventing spillage through construction of gabions. If it can't, we should be told so that religious leaders and the business community can start mobilising resources before it's too late," the MCA said.
County Director of Disaster Management Vincent Palor said that a technical team has been formed to develop a contingency plan.
Senior County Adviser for Security, Peace and Borderland Initiatives Augustine Lokwang said the team is also collecting factual information that will also be used in public sensitisation meetings to debunk misinformation among residents.