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Water Utilities still struggles to keep underground water flowing

Parastatal organization mandated to manage a single project for the supply and distribution of water in the country Water Utilities says it still continues to face challenges in underground water due to natural factors such as high salinity, low rates of replenishment due to low rainfall and the deep-seated nature of their aquifers.

Other challenges facing underground water resources, according to the group’s 2018 Annual Report, are old boreholes infrastructure and high leakages, vandalism and theft of equipment, illegal abstraction and uncoordinated developments in the well fields leading to groundwater pollution and over-abstraction and ever-increasing water demands. The report indicates that groundwater accounts for about 60 per cent of water supply.

Further, the report indicated that some operational areas continued facing water shortages, saying that normal water supply to the areas require significant funding. The Corporation demonstrated that well fields in Kanye, Maitengwe, Dukwi, Letlhakane, Molepolole and Ghanzi were experiencing declining water levels and low recharge rate and some well fields failed as a result.

The Corporation’s parent Ministry, the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, responded to some of these problems through extension of North South Carrier to connect villages such as Kanye, Thamaga and Molepolole. The impact is yet to be felt as construction is still on-going. Other challenges such as declining borehole water levels and high leakages due to dilapidated infrastructure continue to pose a challenge. Management centres such as Letlhakane, Molepolole, Tsabong and Ghanzi are wholly dependent on groundwater supplies.

However, there have been no major groundwater resources development projects implemented in these areas in a very long time despite the design life of boreholes. The report accentuated that Molepolole Management Centre is the only centre to have seen a major groundwater development project in the recent past; the development of Malwelwe and Sorilatholo well fields.

It underscored that most of the boreholes in the Malwelwe well field were drilled in 1991 and were only rehabilitated during the 2008 Botlhapatlou groundwater development project. Furthermore, it was said that the Nata cluster continues to experience water supply problems because of increased demand and leakages owing to aged infrastructure as well as destruction of water supply networks by elephants.

To address the problems in the cluster, the Ministry identified four monitoring boreholes within Dukwi well field for conversion to production boreholes to augment the supply as a short-term solution; however the envisaged plan by the Corporation has a potential risk of subsequently aggravating deterioration in water supply.

Statistics show that, of the 846 analysed boreholes, 654 were drilled before the year 2000 indicating that well over 75% of boreholes have long gone past their design life. The report stressed that the borehole conditions are aggravated by high salinity in areas such as Tsabong, Letlhakane and Masunga Management Centres whilst in other areas such as Molepolole, Pallaroad, Masama and Serowe, incrustation from formation of iron bacterial colonies has contributed significantly to the accelerated dilapidation of boreholes infrastructure.

The observations are not recent as they were previously identified through a Borehole Rehabilitation Project. A detailed analysis of the Corporation’s water supply boreholes is required as current analysis are limited by the absence of groundwater monitoring data and information, the report said. Nevertheless, the Corporation’s in-house programme to rehabilitate its water supply boreholes continues. A 2017 World Bank study concluded that the Corporation’s transition in role and responsibility set against unaltered management and operation structure and personnel complement compromises the Corporation’s ability to fulfil all the responsibilities and activities placed upon it.

Despite all the challenges, efforts are being made to improve the Corporations groundwater monitoring activities. The World Bank funded Emergency Water Security and Efficiency Project is intended to interlay address chronic drought in Botswana that continues to affect boreholes by saline intrusion, drying up and collapsing. To this end the proposed investment are aimed at reducing stress on groundwater sources by developing alternative and more sustainable sources.

According to the report, the Cleaning and Fishing Rig has been able to rehabilitate over 42 boreholes countrywide in five management centres, Kanye, Molepolole, Mahalapye, Masunga and Tsabong. This represented an average of 3.5 boreholes against the target of 4 boreholes per month. The Corporation indicated that it drilled two boreholes, one at Bray and another at Ramotlabaki during the period under review. These two villages had no source of supply after their boreholes suffered collapse and therefore necessitated the drilling of replacement boreholes.

The success completion of the boreholes and their subsequent connection to the network has alleviated the acute water shortage the villages have been facing. The North South Carrier scheme operated satisfactorily during the period under review. Pump Stations showed good availability over the year except for Pump Station No:2 which had only one out of the three pumps available during the first quarter. There was a spike in the downtime of the scheme arising from maintenance works required to connect new components to the scheme. The overall availability of the scheme stood at 87.5%, the report indicated.

With increased incidents of vandalism, the report underlined that the Corporation equipped the new pump stations and reservoirs with surveillance cameras that are controlled remotely from Mmamashia Command Centre. Water losses were mainly registered in areas with high incidences of infrastructure failure owing to dilapidated networks, unmetered standpipes, inefficient meters and physical losses.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

5th May 2021
Botswana-economic-recovery-depends-on-successful-vaccine-rollout---BoB-

Bank of Botswana (BoB) has indicated that the rebounding of domestic economy will depended on successful vaccine roll-out which could help business activity to return to its post pandemic days.

Projections by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggest a rebound in economic growth for Botswana in 2021.

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Inside the UB-BDF fighter Jet tragedy report

5th May 2021
Inside-the-UB-BDF-fighter-Jet-tragedy-report

Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.

Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”

Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”

The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.

“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.

Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.

Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.

Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.

Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”

In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”

Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.

“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.

Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.

Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.

He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”

Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.

“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.

One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.

A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.

Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.

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Uphill battle in Khama’s quest to charge Hubona

5th May 2021
JAKO HUBONA

A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.” 

Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.

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