Botswana Railways (BR) resorted to hiring a South African crane from an undisclosed company to help with the haulage of the derailed coaches, following an accident which left two people dead, at Bonwapitse near Mahalapye, in the early hours of Tuesday 10th December 2019.
Despite having its own cranes, BR looked beyond the border, procuring a multi- tasking telescopic crane to help in the hauling operations, parting ways with a whooping P3 million in the process, this has been confirmed by impeccable sources. Sources within BR who spoke on condition of anonymity told this publication that the incident left everyone at the organisation puzzled because they have more than one crane that could have done the job.
“The problem is they have abandoned them, they have been kept without being serviced for a long time. They never anticipated that a derailment incident could happen soon, but BR has been facing derailment challenges for the past 3 years,” said one source. Botswana Railways spokesperson Sakaeyo Baitshepi confirmed that indeed they have hired a crane from South Africa in December to help with the haulage.
Asked why they could not use their own cranes, Baitshepi said the accident was massive and they needed more manpower. "We also used our two cranes but they were small and not fit to help with moving the coaches,” said Baitshepi. Baitshepi however could not answer other questions as to how much was spent on procuring the telescopic crane from South Africa and from which company, opting to answer them through a questionnaire but could not answer at the time of going to press.
Baitshepi also said he could not answer some of the questions since the inquiry into the investigations of the accident are still ongoing across the country. Owing to the accident that shocked the nation, the Ministry of Transport and Communications initiated a commission of inquiry to investigate the causes of the accident.
Following the interviews, employees took turns in the hot seat and claimed serious malfunctions within the BR Management. They asserted that the malfunctions coupled with decrepit systems have always presented a ticking time bomb within the organisation. The December 10 accident, they said, was a result of a toxic environment at their headquarters. They claimed that top management authorised movement of the train, despite their warnings of adverse weather conditions.
The reports confirmed that two Botswana Railways employees, a trainman (assistant Driver) and a permanent Way Inspector, lost their lives in the accident and two others, a trainee locomotive driver and her accompanying instructor also travelling in the locomotive were admitted at Mahalapye hospital. Fortunately there were no fatalities amongst the 400 passengers in the coaches though passengers sustained injuries of varying degrees.
Mahalapye Station Commander Superintendent Omphile Malemenyane said the train, which had eight cabins and a locomotive, crashed into a stream, killing two drivers on the spot while one colleague sustained critical injuries.The railway staff – three men and a woman – were trapped in the locomotive when the train derailed. The woman managed to escape but sustained serious injuries that include fractured arms.
According to Baitshepi, two other members of the train service crew and one passenger sustained serious injuries and have been hospitalized at a local district hospital. Dozens of passengers who sustained minor injuries were treated by medical officials who rushed to the accident scene and discharged immediately, he said. Baitshepi also said the cause of the derailment is being investigated by the country's directorate of accident investigation.
The passenger train was from Gaborone, Botswana's capital city heading northwards, the destination was the Southern African country's second-largest city, Francistown. The train movement were also halted between the country's major cities to give way for the repair of the railway line.
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.
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.
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.