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P35 million Maruapula Testing Centre fails

Multitudes of Class B driving license applicants queuing to complete yard tests will have to wait until next year as the new Department of Road Transport and Safety (DRTS) automated testing system has experienced malfunctions since opening six months ago.    

The P35 million built Maruapula Testing Centre was projected to service Gaborone and peripheral areas. However, ever since the Korean company, Neo Information Systems handed the project it has not performed to the expected standards. This has affected the licensing system as most people are congested in the yard level.

After exercising patience for some time with the hope that the situation will normalise, clients are now fed-up. This week scores of livid instructors and candidates had to summon the DRTS leadership for an impromptu meeting at the ground, lamenting about the service they get from the facility. Top of the concerns is failure by the ground to test 120 candidates in a day as it was initially promised. To make matters worse, is the failure to at least manage to test 60 per day.

DRTS earlier this year abandoned the old manual system of testing drivers and introduced the automated one. The idea was for the candidates to be tested by a system which is objective and to avoid human errors from examiners. “Only one vehicle is available the other two have mechanical faults. Batteries are dead, no pressure on tires and even the one available sometimes run out of fuel and you can imagine the demand for licenses,” member of the Botswana Drivers Training Association Lesego Dithore told DRTS chief Mokotedi at the meeting.
Besides it is said there are only two examiners who cannot manage the number of applicants.

Not only is that, the Information Technology system at the ground is also down leading to the whole failure. “They could have continued with the old system of testing people because there is a lot that needs to be done before this one can be fully functional as it should,” Emmanuel Kebadirejang of The Homestead Pty Ltd said.

The Homestead is a company that was partnering with the Koreans in the building of the facility. The company was to manage and ensure the centre run smoothly after the departure of the Asians since they have been given the technical knowhow.  “It will take time before it can service as it should. The government is yet to procure IT services from us which will take time, and while we are aware of some challenges here, we still have to thoroughly look at others and bring equipment here which is ordered from Korea. Things like Tachometer will be needed,” Kebadirejang said on the sidelines of the meeting.

DRTS boss Mokotedi who was faced with plethora of questions from the irate public conceded failure. “Yes I wholly agree we failed,” he said. “There are problems here and we should work together to address this. We have apologized to the association as the three cars we have lose signals while on the field, so im going to request patience,” he told a fully packed waiting room.

The amenity which boasts of being the first of its kind in Africa should work concurrently with the old yard if the DRTS wants to issue out licenses, candidates wrote in a letter presented to Mokotedi. “Allow me to say this, issues outside my jurisdiction will be escalated to my principals and I will do that on this matter to have two fields working concurrently,” said Mokotedi.  He however assured angry multitudes that they are on the brink of procuring the services from The Homestead.

An automated testing system is the way to go for most of the countries. Botswana joined the bandwagon despite the glitches, but the system has been hailed as the best in exception of the challenges experienced. It is anticipated that the facility will be revived by the IT experts while candidates use the old manual system.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.



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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.


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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.


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