Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mmetla Masire has said the country has ample water to supply the whole country, although the main challenge his corporation is faced with is distributing that water throughout the country.
When speaking to WeekendPost this week Masire emphasised that “our only challenge is the ability to distribute that water to where we want it to be. That’s the biggest single most important challenge faced by the Utility,” he said. Masire pointed out that the corporation needs storage facilities like tanks because if they have small storage tanks in some big villages like it is the case in Molepolole, it affects the corporation’s ability to distribute water.
“If you don’t have the pipe you can’t get water. Sometimes when someone says they don’t have water in a village you would find that the challenge is actually the pipes and that there is normally sufficient water to provide for such but the network doesn’t reach it – that’s all part of the distribution,” he observed. The other challenge, he highlighted, is capacity and integrity of the infrastructure and land servicing. He said that if a pipe is leaking, the water would not go where it is supposed to go.
According to the WUC CEO, a dam like Dikgatlhong, theoretically, as one dam, can as a matter of fact sufficiently supply the whole country. “But we will have to get the water around the country and that’s where the challenge will be,” he added. Masire gave an example that in the distribution of the water, the North/South water carrier project that takes water from the northern dams to the south of the country will have to break apart at some point to transfer water to other areas like Gantsi, Maun, Tsabong and all other areas around the country. “That’s why I say the issue is mostly about distribution,” he said adding that most of the villages outside the north south carrier are predominantly supported by the boreholes to source water.
Overcharging, wrong metre readings and bill queries
With regard to overcharging and wrong metre readings, The WUC top man said he partly blames customers for incorrect readings. “It’s interesting that customers complain about wrong metre readings and overcharges but there is denial of access to get the correct readings at their premises as they have high walls, vicious dogs, and they warn maids against access of strangers even from Water Utilities,” he pointed out.
He however mentioned that the issue is like chicken and eggs story but quickly admitted that sometimes they err but it has not been helped by the so called security reasons as the bottom line is: “we still have no access”. But in bringing the solution the Utility boss explained that “what we are doing about it is that we have new metre boxes erected outside the yards in some areas but attached to the main metre inside. So even if we are denied access we can still take the metre readings from outside the yard.”
He nonetheless added that “we will still have bill queries and malfunctioning metres and that with 350 000 meters it’s reasonable to expect that we will have genuine concerns but we don’t believe it is widespread as some want us to believe.” He continued to also reveal that soon they will be introducing highly sophisticated smart metres that will pave way for prepaid metres as “that’s the future though it will cost the corporate so much”.
Water situation in Botswana currently not bad as well
Overall, the soft spoken Utility Corporation chief told this publication that “the water situation even locally is not too bad. There is water. We have enough water around the country.” Since the north south carrier project he said the water situation has really improved in the past 12 years because they have not experience any pipe burst or break down and therefore by extension there were no water cuts during the period in Gaborone and Greater Gaborone areas.
In terms of the ongoing Molepolole water crisis in which they even submitted a petition to WUC, he highlighted that the village has grown faster than anticipated and that’s why there is that serious water problem. “We expect this problem to linger on at least for two years,” he said while adding that they were working out solutions to the problem. “They will be solved through the World Bank loan of more than 1.5 billion and the project has already started following approval of the loan by parliament. It was partly to address water problems in the south like in Molepolole. It contributes to the solutions,” he said confidently.
How Mathambo’s budget will ease water problems
Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo revealed when presenting the budget speech this week that Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation will get more than 3 billion to address water challenges. He said “a significant portion of the proposed development budget of P3.29 billion or 17.0 percent, being the largest share, is proposed for the Ministry (of Land Management, Water and Sanitation) to support initiatives aimed at improving the availability of water supply, as well as wastewater and sludge management.”
Matambo stated that the water projects account for P2.51 billion or 77 percent of the Ministry’s allocation. The main projects implemented, he said, are the North South Carrier 2 from Palapye – Mmamashia – Gaborone at P647.29 million, which is meant to provide adequate water to the southern part of Botswana, as well as the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency project funded through the recently approved loan of USD145.50 million from the World Bank.
He said he was grateful to parliament for approving the Emergency Water Security and Efficiency Project Loan Authorisation Bill in March 2017, to raise the said P1.5 billion from the World Bank to finance the funding gap in the water sector. According to the Finance Minister, an amount of P2.53 billion has been proposed for water development programmes and projects in the 2018/2019 budget to cover investment in the improvement of water supply networks, in particular, the pipelines to transfer water from dams and well-fields in the northern part of the country to the south to support economic activity.
With regards to the development of water infrastructure, he added that government will continue to prioritise investment in this area given the critical role of water supply as an input for economic growth and development.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.