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BR train gutted by fire

A Botswana Railways (BR) BD 104 freight locomotive caught fire Thursday evening at Mokgosi, between Ramotswa and Lobatse.

BR Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dominic Ntwaagae was at Taung Train station, Thursday night to assess the damage.

He explained that BD 104’s engine and train men who were railing from Mahalapye to Lobatse explained that on the way the locomotive had cut its power and flames shortly erupted from its left side.

Ntwaagae, who is also an engineer, said that preliminarily the engine seems to have sustained a considerable amount of damage. He said that it could be worth in the region of P 2 million

While the entire locomotive did not burn down, a large burn mark patch could be observed on the left side of the locomotive when this reporter arrived at Taung Train Station at 10:00 pm where it had been hauled.

Ntwaagae also said that he does not suspect any foul play as the train was in motion on the tracks: “I do not suspect any sabotage because it was moving unlike if it was stationary at some station.” Ntwaagae said.

A total of 12 BD1 locomotives of the burnt out model were procured from the United States of America in 1984 and only 4 sets remain in operation while the rest have been lost to crashes, while others have been disposed of.

Ntwaagae however denied that BR is in a crisis and pointed out that despite the recent incessant negative publicity that his company has been hogging, it maintains a good accident record.

He also said that investigations will soon start to find the cause of the fire and the locomotive will then be assessed by the Safety Review Committee (SRC) which will be comprised of several BR experts to see what to do with it and if they require external assistance they will duly make such a request.

Ntwaagae said that his locomotives move fuel in millions of litres, tonnages of soda ash, salt, cement and coal and critically propping up the c mining sector while decongesting the road network.

He said that while the locomotive will be grounded, it will scale back 1000 tons of freight that it moves on a daily basis. He said that at times the locomotive is enjoined with others and can number up to 4, drawing up to 50 wagons transporting cargo.

“It will definitely hurt us,” he said.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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