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SPEDU signs Platjan Bridge contracts

SPEDU signed off the Platjan Bridge Project contracts with Estate Construction and Wellfield Engineering last week in Selebi Phikwe.

The construction of the bridge is meant to ease movement across the borders on both sides of the Limpopo River that constitute points of entry between Botswana and South Africa. The contract sum for the project is P104, 547,735.72 (one hundred and four million, five hundred and fourty seven thousand, seven hundred and thirty five pula, seventy two thebe).

Speaking on behalf the SPEDU Board Chairman, Daniel Mahupela at the signing ceremony, SPEDU’s James Mathokgwane explained that the project was earmarked for commencement in 2014 under the Department of Roads. SPEDU took over the facilitation of the project in April 2016. The ground breaking to mark the commencement of the project is scheduled for June 29, 2017.    

SPEDU Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Mokubung Mokubung stated that the Platjan Bridge construction project is a strategic diversification initiative resulting from a reciprocal bi-lateral agreement between Botswana and South Africa. He explained that under the terms of the bi-literal covenant, Botswana committed to the construction of the bridge across the Limpopo River while the Republic of South Africa agreed to construct the bridge across Notwane River in Botswana. Both bridges are located at International Border Posts and are meant to ease travel both ways between the two countries.

Mokubung said the project entails the construction of an eight meter high, 155 meter long and 12.5 meters wide dual carriage structure with culverts and gabions on both the South African and Botswana sides. It also entails tarmac feeder roads of 500 meter and 200 meter length connecting the bridge on the South African and Botswana sides respectively.

The CEO noted that they conducted the SPEDU Regional Tourism Study which served as a business case justification of the need to enhance ease of access into the SPEDU Region through physical and virtual networks. He said the study recommended the construction of the Platjan Bridge as a catalyst to tourism investment and growth.

He said that Selebi Phikwe usually lose out on business opportunities as a result of tourists by-passing the town since they enter the region largely through Martins Drift Border Post. The bridge will therefore see Selebi Phikwe have business opportunities like accommodation and tourist spending for hotel and hospitality enterprises operating in the town.

The bridge will also serve to link the various tourism clusters in the SPEDU Region Tourism Cluster Corridor which  include Tuli Block, the Selebi Phikwe Tourism Cluster, the Tswapong Hills Tourism cluster as well as Dam tourism cluster comprising the trilogy of dam based tourism attractions of Letsibogo, Dikgathong and Thune Dams. It will also de-congest the busy Martin Drift Border Post thus contributing to business and tourism travel efficiency among other benefits.

Mokubung added that the strategic importance of the construction of the bridge is not strictly limited to enhanced tourism sector development as the bridge will support further development of the agro-business sector in the Tuli Block Area. He said commercial horticulture at Talana Farms and the planned Thune Dam Irrigation Scheme Project which lie between the Platjan Bridge and Selebi Phikwe will also benefit in terms of cost and time efficiency in the transportation of perishable goods and production inputs into and out of either side of the bridge.

Mokubung said there is need to invest in further support projects such as an upgraded commercial border post on the Botswana and South African sides of the bridge, an upgrade to bitumised standard of the 27km connecting road between the bridge, Mathathane, and Lekkerport Junction as well as provision of enhanced mobile and internet communication infrastructure in the Tuli Block within the environs of the Platjan Bridge.

He says these upgrades are necessary to maximise the economic benefit flows from the project, explaining that in conjunction with other stakeholders, they are proactively looking into the ways and means of bringing these strategic ideals to fruition as part and parcel of the Revitalisation Strategy of the SPEDU Region.

He described the construction of the bridge as a milestone for SPEDU. “The occasion of the signing of the contract between SPEDU and the contractors for the construction and supervision services of the Platjan Bridge project represents an important milestone in the over-arching economic diversification and regeneration initiative in the SPEDU Region,” he said.    

The Deputy Board Chairman of SPEDU, Ronald Yane commended the European Union for supporting the Government of Botswana. The Platjan Bridge Project is funded under the Sysmin Re-Employment Account (REA). The REA is a repository of funds accumulated from cumulative loan and principal repayment on a facility extended by the European Union (EU) to the Government of Botswana under the Economic Diversification of Mining Sector (EDMS) project. Yane said EU continues to assist Botswana Government by funding SPEDU projects towards diversification of the economy.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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