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Water crisis: unscrupulous business men selling tap water to the poor

Unscrupulous business men are exploiting the gullible people by selling tap water at high prices to the general public in the Southern District a disastrous move that cuts across the whole country – due to the ongoing water crisis.

The water supply deficiency in Botswana has therefore led to some dubious individuals, both legally and in some instances illegally, buying water at the corporation and later re-selling to innocent citizens at exorbitant prices.  This notwithstanding that tap water is an essential human right matter and therefore that governments across the world including Botswana have an obligation to make it available to all citizens particularly the underprivileged.

However Botswana continues to face acute shortage of water supply in many areas despite all efforts by Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) to make the water available to all and sundry. Weekend Post investigations have revealed that some truck drivers carrying big water tanks are capitalising on the scarcity of water in the Southern part of the country and cashing approximately P60 000 in profits monthly.

“There is generally no water supply in Kanye. The taps are dry. Some people now abuse us. They put those big water tanks in their trucks to buy at WUC at cheap prices then re-sell this water to the desperate community of Kanye. This situation continuously remains a concern to the public,” an irate elderly who preferred not to be mentioned also confirmed. This publication has followed around 20 different trucks in a day coming back and forth around 10 times to fetch the WUC low-priced water continuously at the corporation.

The trucks, 5 tonnes to 7 tonnes, are strong enough to carry water tanks (Jojo’s) holding a capacity of 1000 litres to 5 000 litres or more. Weekend Post has turned up information that while WUC sells the 1000 litres (1 cubic litres) full of water at a paltry P39.20, they then go on to sell 2500 litres at a whopping P 300 per tank. P 2500 litres would cost rarely P100.

Indications suggest that in essence they make a profit of more than P200 every P2500 litres of water tank. They fetch the water 10 times, where they are always lined up in their numbers, making a daily profits of P2000. In an average one month, one truck can wallop close to P60 000 in water profits. The truck water drivers are also not regulated as they can sell at their own prices which might be heftier than the known charge.

“So we end up buying this water although we do have taps at homes. The water crisis is taking a toll on us. WUC does not even frequently and timely attend to leaking pipes and this happens while at home there is no water supply,” another village elder told Weekend Post. It is understood that WUC has justified the development citing that the truck water entrepreneurs reason that they have been assigned by the community to fetch them the water and in return attracting a fee to assist fuel their cars.

The fuel fee however has not been stipulated as some believe the P200 per truck per trip is too much as the trucks are just local. The selling of water to the public has been going on since 2009 when the water crisis took its toll in the country. This happens notwithstanding that lack of access to water is seen as a life and death predicament.

Meanwhile the United Nations General Assembly has, on 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292 explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. When contacted for a comment, Kanye WUC General Manager Ditiro Mogotlhwane confirmed to Weekend Post that indeed they do sell water to some truck drivers at very low prices but not aware if they re-sell it at inflated prices.

He stated: “a once off ration to a maximum of 10000 litres at a rate of P39.95/1000 litres is sold to individuals who cannot get water in their areas and customers who require large water quantities. Truck drivers are engaged by individuals who buy water from WUC bulk filling points.”  The General Manager justified that water supply has been challenging for Kanye and Moshupa Villages and has been deteriorating overtime following years of drought and borehole yield decline/drying up.

He highlighted that the current abstraction averages around 7900m3/day against a combined demand of 15000m3 per day and therefore this translates to a supply deficit of approximately 7000m3/day. The situation, he added that has been worsened in the recent months by frequent power and equipment failure resulting in prolonged water shortage and slow recovery on the distribution network. Other villages around Kanye, he said are also affected by inadequate water supply and are largely sustained by the Corporation bowsers.

Mogotlhwane emphasized that management centre does not have capacity to bowser water to individual or business premises and as such individuals who cannot get water in their areas are therefore allowed to buy water to meet their needs and make own arrangements to fetch the water. On the lucrative reselling of water the WUC head honcho said WUC is not aware of the water resale activity from its sources. “It should be noted that WUC does not knowingly sell water to people who resell it.  The reselling of water if any is done behind WUC’s back.”

According to the General Manager, water bowsing is employed where the Corporation has placed potable tanks (JoJos) in strategic places within the village, bowsing to public institutions (schools, hospitals and offices) and other places which keep emanating due to the continuous challenges where our bowser would stop at a station for customers to fetch water, an inefficient exercise considering the number of bowsing points.

Kanye alone, Mogotlhwane pointed out that, has more than 50 points to service excluding surrounding villages adding that the management center has also been out-sourcing bowsing, where some of the outsourced bowsers or trucks with Jojos may be mistaken as private sellers.On what WUC is doing to address the water situation, the Corporation boss stated that “the Kanye Mmamashia North South Carrier (NSC) connection is underway and expected to complete by July 2019 as a sustainable solution to Kanye water situation.”

Currently, he further observed that four boreholes have been drilled, equipped and interconnected around Dilokwana and Gasegogwane areas and that three are currently operational and yielding approximately 1700m3/day which splits between the two villages. He said the project was commissioned in December 2018 when WUC had operational challenges due to frequent power failures.

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Botswana confirms new COVID-19 variant

17th May 2021
covid19

Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.

The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.

He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected

“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.

The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

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Khama lawyers dismiss BDP’s MacD

17th May 2021
former President Lt Gen Ian Khama

The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.

Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.

He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them.  “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.

“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.

“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”

To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.

In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.

“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.

Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’

Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.

So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’

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Inside the multi-million Dollar Kazungula Bridge business

17th May 2021
kazungula bridge

Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.

“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.

The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.

The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent

“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”

The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.

“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.

For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

KAZUNGULA FERRY

The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.

In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.

In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.

The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.

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