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The 170 billion Pula water jinx

Water needs P165 billion cash, wastewater needs P5 billion

With Botswana’s dam sites almost exhausted, the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) needs a whooping P170 billion to contain the water crisis threatening Botswana, WeekendPost can reveal.


In the recent past President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama had sanctioned the WUC to carry out a “comprehensive assessment of water and wastewater situation” in the country, and the results are nerve wrecking – vanishing water sources and huge financial implications.


According to the assembled report, which was then presented to not only Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water resources (MMEWR) but also to a full Cabinet last week, WUC conceded that “the water situation requires immediate attention and will need huge resources.”


A total amount of P170 billion is divided between water and wastewater interventions as well short, medium and long term solutions.


To ameliorate the water problem, the government will need P165 billion cash injection; while solutions aligned to wastewater will call for a total of P5 billion. Botswana’s budget as presented by Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo this year stood at a sum of P50 billion, surely the country’s budget cannot finance the  P170 billion figure hence the need for private involvement to take control of the water situation in the country.


In the 2015 budget, the largest share of the development budget was allocated to the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) at P3.32 billion or 25.7 percent of the budget. “This is meant to allow Government to continue to address the water and power issues facing the country by putting in place appropriate infrastructure,” reads part of the budget.


High placed sources at the WUC told this publication that efforts will be made to rope in the private sector to contribute to the water security situation in the country. “This is a developing process in the country,” one of the sources said. The WUC has advised that the Ministry and Government should consider partners in resolving matters such as Financing Infrastructure, introduction of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the water sector; expertise in Project Implementation and Management; Robust operation and Maintenance; Job creation; and Citizen Empowerment.


Some of the top priority projects, North-South Carrier scheme upgrading works is estimated at P1.53 billion (funding available) and to be implemented from now till February 2017.


WUC is also embarking on the North-South Water Carrier 2.2 pipeline and associated works such as the Gaborone Wastewater reclamation plant and the Chobe/Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme at P66 billion and the implementation period is estimated at seven years but funds are not available. Other projects include Gaborone master plan, Lobatse Master plan, refurbishment of Mambo wastewater treatment works as well as Boteti southern and central cluster which will cost around P4 billion and will be executed over three years.


According to the report, other planned projects include National Water Loss Control Project, Letlhakane Wastewater, North East and Tutume Sub District, and Selibe Phikwe Serule Transfer Scheme which are scheduled to be implemented over a period of three years at a cost of P3 billion.


Reports reaching this publication suggest that Cabinet members were also reminded of key action points such as to “develop and enhance water governance – development of trade effluent agreement, development of the regulator, and enhancement of institutions.” Ministers were also informed that there is need to profile consumers against water quality required, e.g Agriculture and mining need less potable water for their operations.


In addition, “Reinforcing the culture of conversation and demand management is paramount. Huge consumers should recycle, e.g BMC, boarding schools, and, build water efficiency into building codes e.g all households to have rain water harvesting.”


The water situation report also analysed the 16 management centres across the country. The report looked at the national surface and groundwater sources against demand clusters prior to the 2008 water sector reforms. Cabinet was told that “only two management centres of Kanye and Lobatse are in a bad situation while Ghanzi, Tsabong and Masunga require closer monitoring – as their situation is also undesirable.”

 
Through a map, WUC illustrated that the Maun, Ghanzi, Lobatse and Kanye management centres have acute water supply deficit of more than 30%. “Basically the picture reflects extreme infrastructure deficits generally throughout the country.”


The report highlights that many parts of the country experience serious water loss ranging from 16% to 58% and these include parts of Tsabong, Kanye, Lobatse, Molepolole, Ghanzi, Maun, Kasane, Masunga, Serowe and Mochudi. The only areas that have acceptable water losses are Gaborone, Palapye, Francistown, Selebi Phikwe and Letlhakane management centres.


Records indicate that areas that currently have conventional sewerage systems are: Maun, Gaborone, Kasane, Ghanzi, Francistown, Selibe Phikwe, Tonota, Palapye, Serowe, Mahalapye, Shoshong, Bobonong, Mochudi, Mogoditshane, Tlokweng, Gabane, Lobatse, Goodhope, Jwaneng, Ramotswa and Orapa.


“Out of these only Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Selibe Phikwe have huge potential for reclamation.” However they need to be refurbished and upgraded to improve efficiency, it is noted in the report.


According to the presentation made by the WUC, Trade Effluent Agreements need to be put in place to ensure pretreatment prior to discharging into the system e.g Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), tannery, poultry, and textiles. Effluent currently being discharged into the environment should be further treated for re-use. It is understood that the total quantity that can be reclaimed from these systems is 50% as minimum of treatment plant capacity.


How North South Carrier could fail
As at April 2015, the Gaborone dam was filled at a paltry 2.6% out of the 141.4 maximum capacity and has failed months of supply without inflow. Under normal circumstances, Molatedi dam (10ml), Bokaa dam (28ml), Nnywane dam (2.4ml), Ramotswa well field (5ml), Gaborone dam (74ml) and North-South Carrier 1 (60ml) make the total supply of 179.4ml to Greater Gaborone area. Gaborone peak demand is 145ml.


At present, excluding the Gaborone dam, the total supply of Gaborone water sits at 105.4 ml and therefore on a deficit of 39.6ml. In case, Masama East as a water source is included, the deficit will only be reduced to 19.6ml of deficit.


Moreover Gaborone water sources indicate that by 2016 the total supply of Gaborone water will be at 85ml with a deficit of 60ml. The water will come from Masama East, North-South Carrier, and the Ramotswa Well field.


It is also understood that without the North – South Carrier, by 2019 total available water will stand at 85ml hence a deficit of 112ml. Declining dam levels at Dikgatlhong and Letsibogo will lead to a failing North-South Carrier. Low or no rainfall will lead to Ramotswa not charging at all. But the general water situation will be determined by the amount of rain that falls over this period.


To achieve water security, a strategic shift is needed towards water demand management that both avoids future water shortages and keeps water affordable. Indications are that the available long term alternative is to use water from the Chobe Zambezi and link this with the North South Carrier as well as use water in the Nata River basin. However, both water sources are shared with other states, and the catch would be for Botswana to acquire consent of these countries, if the arrangement is to be carried through.


Botswana’s water demand is expected to be at 229 million cubic meters in 2020 and 286 million cubic meters in 2036. Demand is expected to outstrip supply in the near future hence water authorities are forced to come up with reasonable and plausible initiatives. Agriculture is the biggest water user in Botswana, accounting for 45 percent of all water used with the lowest productivity.

There is also going to be need for efficiency in water allocation – this could be implemented through the establishment of prioritized demand categories and quantities that are exempted for efficiency allocation process, and strict application of water efficiency guidelines to all other users.


Water lost through WUC supply system
Research indicates that one quarter of all water supply in Botswana is lost through the WUC distribution system. Industry players recommend that this must be reduced to the 15 percent set by the WUC. But the biggest problem according to the WUC cashflow analysis is that there is no funding available to implement the National Water Loss Control Project. 

To implement the Major Villages Network Rehabilitation and Land Servicing, WUC needs P150 million in 2015/16, P417 million in 2016/17, P475 million in 2017/18 and P400 million in 2018/19.  In addition Water Pressure Zoning needs an injection of P500 million in the same financial years; while Distribution Storage Reservoirs need P750 million between 2015 and 2019 financial years.

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No end in sight for Nam, Botswana borderline feud

27th July 2021
Namibian-report

Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.

Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.

“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.

Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.

The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.

The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.  They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).

His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.

The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.

Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.

37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far

Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.

“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.

It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.

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Masisi gives KBL the “middle finger”

27th July 2021
President Masisi

Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.

This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.

In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.

“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.

Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.

Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”

Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.

He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”

According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.

Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.

“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.

He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.

Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.

“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.

He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”

Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.

However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.

In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.

“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.

Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.

“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.

Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.

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Gov’t gives parallel statements on COVAX

27th July 2021
COVAX---lelatisitswe

In  an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.

The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.

“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.

According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.

“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more  money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.

“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.

“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).

On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.

Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.

President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.

“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.

On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.

Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.

Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.

As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.

This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.

The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.

As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.

“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.

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