Hail storm wreaks havoc in Butha-Buthe, Leribe

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Limpho Sello | Bereng Mpaki

A HAIL storm which pounded the northern districts of Lesotho last Thursday leaving a trail of destruction has crippled services at Seboche Hospital in Butha-Buthe.

Seboche Hospital was immediately forced to suspend several services after the storm which destroyed the roof of its main building. The storm also destroyed several businesses in Maputsoe.

Butha-Buthe district administrator, Tṧepa Chaba, yesterday told the Lesotho Times that the damage to the roof led to an electrical fault which has crippled all services requiring electricity. The services have been suspended until further notice.

The hail left the asbestos roofing sheets with holes which left electrical connections and equipment flooded with water, he said.

“The second floor of the main building was left flooded with water which affected electric wires and equipment and we had to turn it off to avoid further damage,” Mr Chaba said.

“All the patients who were admitted at the hospital were then transferred to Butha-Buthe and Motebang hospitals because those were the only available options since the patients still needed further medical treatment.

“However, the hospital is still offering some services in the other block which was not affected by the hail storm. These services include antenatal care, out patients and the collection of medication.”

He said the hospital was only assisting patients whose conditions were “non-critical”.

He however, could not be drawn into revealing how much the damage is worth and how long it would take to repair.

The Health Ministry was still engaging the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) over the matter, he said.

“We are compiling a report and once it has been completed, I will be in a position to give concrete information and what decision would have been reached.”

The disaster has created pressure for Butha-Buthe and Motebang hospitals because of the patients who are being diverted from Seboche, Mr Chaba said. Other resultant challenges include staff shortages at Butha-Buthe and Motebang, he added.

“The hospitals were already overwhelmed and with more patients coming in from Seboche, it means Motebang and Butha-Buthe are extremely burdened,” Mr Chaba said.

Meanwhile, several businesses in Maputsoe were also destroyed by the hailstorm last Thursday.

The damage, which is estimated to run into thousands of maloti, has now left at least 28 workers out of employment.

Five victims sustained minor injuries and were treated in hospital as outpatients.

Labour and Employment Minister, Moshe Leoma, who visited the area last weekend said several supermarkets’ roofs caved in due to the storm. Apart from the infrastructure, goods were also destroyed, he said.

Apart from restocking, at least seven businesses must also spend thousands in repairing their buildings before they can resume operation.

“I have been to Maputsoe and the damage to business property by the hailstorm is significant as 28 people are temporarily out of work,” Mr Leoma said.

“During my visit to the area, I spoke to the business owners who, fortunately, have insured their operations against natural disasters. They however, informed me that they were awaiting their insurers to step in so that work to restore operations can start as soon as possible.

“While that is an area outside my scope of work, I have agreed to assist them for the sake of the workers who are out of employment at the moment.”

The business owners have also assured him that they would retain their workers once they reopen.

Mr Leoma also said the government will not be rendering any assistance to the affected business as it is cash-strapped. However, owners of residential properties that were affected by the hailstorm will receive assistance after cabinet this week agreed to avail funds to help them.

“Cabinet has agreed to mobilise funds to assist owners of houses that were affected public by the hailstorm around the country. However, the said assistance will not be extended to affected businesses,” Mr Leoma said.

 

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