The Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB) through their Fire Department is compromising on the safety of their passengers, reports have revealed. According to information reaching this publication, in all four CAAB stations throughout the country, firemen have not undergone rigorous training since 2010.
Fire fighters are supposed to undertake emergency fire exercises after every two years.
According to impeccable sources, before CAAB took over from the Department of Civil Aviation in 2010, they used to attend refresher courses at Singapore, Thailand and Britain. Firemen should undergo training every year and that is not the case with CAAB.
This has since left the four stations understaffed and in order to keep up with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) some of their staff members were recruited to senior positions after taking theoretical courses and were certified without undertaking rigorous training. The arrangement was initially for them to undertake practical training in South Africa in 2013 but that deal was never seen through.
It has also emerged that this has always been blamed on financial constraints but on the bigger picture, fingers are pointing towards the organisational structure. The organisation has been facing some structural squabbles that saw their former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Major Jefferson Thokwane resign last year and some employees were retrenched. Some of the positions in the organisational structure were faced out.
In response to a Weekend Post questionnaire, the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB)’s Modipe Nkwe maintained that rescue fire services teams underwent mandatory First Aid Level III refresher course in January 2011 and October 2013. It was further revealed that the entire team would undergo refresher training during the 2015/16 financial year which begins in April 2015. In addition, 43 firemen are scheduled to undergo rigorous practical training at Lanseria International Airport in South Africa in April 2015.
ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) of 2013 rated Botswana at 54.3% above African average of 41%. The Botswana rating was just below the global average of 60%. Two Significant Safety Concerns were also identified and are currently being addressed. It is hoped that another audit will take place this year to validate progress made.
Last week Friday the Sir Seretse Khama Airport Fire Chief retired. According to the Fire Department Act, the CAAB should not operate a fire station without a Fire Chief. This publication can also reveal that the two stations of Francistown and Kasane are headed by Senior Fire Officers instead of Principal Fire Officers and these people work on shifts meaning they don’t work normal hours. In the event of an accident no one will take full responsibility at the command post.
“Our immediate past Fire Chief Officer reached the compulsory retirement age at the end of last month- February 2015. A decision on the position will be made during the on-going organisational restructuring process in accordance with the Botswana Civil Aviation Act and the Civil Aviation (Aerodromes) Regulations” CAAB wrote in response to this publication.
Each of the three rescue fire services shifts at both Kasane and Francistown airports is headed by a Senior Fire Officer, accountable to the Principal Airport Operations Officer, according to CAAB.
While commenting on the issue of shortage of equipment and the use of old vehicles CAAB said fire fighting equipment was procured during the 2013/14 financial year. The equipment included Jaws of Life, breathing apparatus, chemical dry power equipment, etc. In addition, fire fighters were supplied with new protective clothing fire suits, fire boots and breathing apparatus masks. Potable fire extinguishers are serviced or replaced as at intervals which are specified by manufacturers. The tender documents for procurement of protective clothing for the newly recruited 31 fire fighters are reportedly being finalised.
CAAB has a total of 15 rescue fire services vehicles. The three units at SSKIA, which are the latest, were delivered in September 2011. Their response was that fire vehicles are designed for longer useable life span ranging from 10 to 20 years. To further enhance rescue fire services, Rapid Intervention Vehicles and Command (Emergency Site Communication) vehicles will be purchased during 2015/16 financial year.
WeekendPost can safely reveal that between 2012- 13 South African Express had wanted to operate in Botswana flying to Kasane but the deal was halted after they doubted CAAB’s safety measures. When their auditors came here they found that the staff was not well trained and the deal didn’t materialise.
Their counterparts, SA Link have provided light two day training courses to some employees to refresh them. However CAAB argued that Kasane International airside facilities were upgraded recently and the runway upgrade works were carried out between November 2011 and July 2014.
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203. BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTC’s commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that “the annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistown”. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that “the donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC’s commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries”.
He further stated that through this marathon, “we demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active society”. He concluded by stating that “BTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large” he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that “he is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon”. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the “CSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities”, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.