Koshe landslide in Addis Ababa kills a number of people; the casualty figure likely to rise

12 Mar

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
From wire services: BBC, Al Jazeera & ABC News

The area has been a dumping ground for Addis Ababa’s garbage (BBC News)

Latest reporting by ABC News has raised the number of the dead to 49. The agency cites as its source Addis Ababa city spokeswoman Dagmawit Moges, who said most of the dead were women and children.

She added more bodies were expected to be found as the day progresses.

BCC news reports that the garbage site is both a dumping ground for the cities wastes and residence for a substantial number of people on a permanent basis.

Koshe resident Tebeju Asres told the AP news agency that the family’s house had been swallowed by the landslide, reports the British news source.

“My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don’t know the fate of all of them.”

The landslide late on Saturday levelled more than 30 makeshift homes of squatters living inside the Koshe landfill on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, said Dagmawit Moges, head of the city’s communications bureau, reports Al Jazeera.

“We expect the number of victims to increase because the landslide covered a relatively large area,” city officials reiterated.

Today’s deaths at Koshe would come as verdict against TPLF greeed, which could deepen the country’s already searing political crisis. This is not an unanticipated emergency, like an earthquake or a volcano, or traffic accident for which Addis Abeba roads have become the world’s worst death traps.

For many who have been raging at the cruelty and bad governance of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Ethiopia’s ruling party, this situation is likely to be taken as vindication, at least, of their efforts to counsel and assail the ethnic minority regime for its countless misdeeds, reliance on lies and state violence.

The cruelty is driven by the TPLF members to seize the lands of citizens and rent them out to foreign investors. The tragedy of this is that it has hurt both the Ethiopian sense of decency and the nation’s politics in this one of the world’s twenty poorest nations!

In a nation known for its historical sense of solidarity and selflessness for national cause in modern times, it is sad that even such tragic event hardly is likely to bring Ethiopians together.

One reason for that is the extent the TPLF has pushed corruption, especially land grab as its goal. It has even gone to the extent of making home demolitions its habitual practice while people are inside. The people cannot forget this easily nor forgive.

In addition, the TPLF is known for its use of the powers of the state to unleash violence to repress and silence citizens to help it remain in power forever. Such larceny by the TPLF has left the nation angry for a while now to give a different interpretation to a situation such as this that has become evidence of absence of rule of law and political power that should have ensured the safety and wellbeing of citizens.

The landfill has been a dumping ground for the capital’s garbage for more than 50 years.

Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma said 37 people had been rescued and were receiving medical treatment.

Many people at the site had been scavenging items to make a living, but others live at the landfill because renting homes, largely built of mud and sticks, is relatively inexpensive there.

“My house was right inside there,” said a shaken Tebeju Asres, pointing to where one of the excavators was digging in deep, black mud. “My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don’t know the fate of all of them.”

The resumption of garbage dumping at the site in recent months is likely to have caused the landslide, Assefa said.

Dumping had stopped in recent years, but it resumed after farmers in a nearby restive region where a new garbage landfill complex was being built blocked dumping in their area.

Smaller landslides had occurred at the Koshe landfill in the past two years, Assefa said.

“In the long run, we will conduct a resettling programme to relocate people who live in and around the landfill,” the Addis Ababa mayor said.

About 500 waste-pickers are believed to work at the landfill every day, sorting through the debris from the capital’s estimated four million residents. City officials say close to 300,000 tonnes of waste are collected each year from the capital, most of it dumped at the landfill.

Since 2010, city officials have warned the site was running out of room for trash.

City officials in recent years have been trying to turn the garbage into a source of clean energy with a $120mn investment. The Koshe waste-to-energy facility, which has been under construction since 2013, is expected to generate 50 megawatts of electricity upon completion.

Ethiopians very well known about the undisciplined hands of the TPLF and are certain that neither light nor power can come out of this. The reason for this is the regime officials obsession on land grab to implant their ethnic overlordship over the rest of Ethiopians!

In Ethiopia, the more projects are launched lately the more they are unrealized, if the past decade is any guide. In the past few years, given that the regime’s corruption and its appetite have reached their nadir, its vortex has become insatiable.

This has made the TPLF the most hated regime in Ethiopia’s 21st century history.

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