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Botswana Railways hired P3 million crane from South Africa

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.

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MoESD Steps in for Learners with Acute and Multiple Disabilities

29th February 2024

In an era where the advocacy for the rights and inclusion of marginal groups, especially individuals beset with profound and multiple impairments, grows more fervent, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is actively devising schemes to integrate these individuals comprehensively.

Embarking on a pioneering venture, heralded by the Minister Douglas Letsholathebe, the establishment of a novel facility designated for individuals faced with disabilities is on the horizon, set to inaugurate in Maun by mid-2024.

This forthcoming entity, bestowed with the title “Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities,” is set to emerge as a sanctuary for those grappling with intense and diverse disabilities in the expanse of the Ngamiland District. Its mission extends beyond serving as a haven; it aims to elevate educational standards and secure outstanding scholastic achievements for this special cohort.

With palpable optimism, Dr. Letsholathebe heralds that this sanctuary, a collective effort of the ministry’s allies, is constructed and awaits its ceremonial launch in the June of 2024, marking a significant epoch in the winter season.

“Construction of the Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities has concluded, now in the stewardship of my Ministry. We are poised for its operational unveiling come June 2024,” Dr. Letsholathebe revealed, signaling a new chapter of assurance.

The Government of the Republic of Botswana is steadfast in elevating the status of individuals with disabilities, fostering an environment where their rights are fervently protected and upheld.

Echoing this commitment, the recent adoption of the Persons Living with Disabilities Act marks a historic stride. Its foremost objective is the establishment of the National Disability Coordinating Office alongside the National Disability Council, aligning with the mandates of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This movement is expected to significantly influence the integration of disability-centric issues.

Moreover, this legislative framework is set to fortify ongoing initiatives, increasing the economic participation of disabled individuals, thereby enhancing their living conditions and steering them towards securing a life marked by dignity and fulfillment.

 

 

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Unemployment hits People living with disability hard

29th February 2024

In light of historical evidence, individuals bearing disabilities have consistently encountered significant obstacles in securing employment, often finding themselves at the margins of the workforce. Constraints to equitable employment opportunities compared to their non-disabled counterparts were a common plight.

A substantial portion of employers harbor reservations about integrating people with disabilities into their workplaces, fearing potential complications. Only a select few are open to the idea of employing individuals with disabilities. Consequently, these individuals face heightened unemployment rates and a lack of social support, exacerbating their vulnerability to economic hardship. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), along with the nation of Botswana, champions the cause of workplace inclusion for people with disabilities.

Statistics from Botswana’s multi-topic survey for the fourth quarter of 2021 underscore the situation. The labor force comprising individuals with disabilities saw an uptick to 11,553 from 8,649 in just a year. Among these, 4,313 were males and 7,240 were females. The unemployed tally stood at 2,195, against 9,358 who were employed. A notable majority resided in Urban Villages, with the remainder spread across rural locales and cities.

During this quarter, individuals with disabilities accounted for approximately 1.3 percent (9,358 persons) of the overall 717,418 employed populace, marking a significant increase from the previous year. The distribution of employed persons with disabilities across various areas also saw changes, with urban regions employing a majority, followed by rural areas and cities.

The report further delves into the occupational landscape for people with disabilities, noting a predominant employment in service/sales roles over elementary positions – a contrast to the broader employment data.

Despite a reduction in unemployment figures for individuals with disabilities from the preceding year, the unemployment rate stands at a worrying 19.0 percent, with disparities between genders. Urban areas house the majority of the unemployed, with rural areas and cities following suit.

Unemployment across different age groups reveals a balanced distribution, highlighting a widespread issue across the demographic spectrum. This paints a vivid picture of the ongoing challenges and gradual progress within the sphere of employment for people with disabilities.

Majority of employers are still hesitant to employ people with disabilities because they believe they may bring problems in the workplace. Only a few employers are willing to hire workers with disabilities. This as a result makes people living with disability to be affected by high unemployment and insufficient social protection which then further increases their risk of poverty. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is advocating for the inclusion of people with disability in the world of work and Botswana as a country too is advocating for their inclusion in the workplaces.

According to statistics Botswana, multi-topic survey quarter 4, 2021 labour force module report, the total labour force for people with disability was estimated at 11,553 persons, an increase of 2,904 persons over a period of twelve months (from 8,649 persons recorded in Q4 2020). From this total, 4,313 persons were males while 7,240 were females. In addition, 2,195 persons were unemployed whereas 9,358 persons were employed. Furthermore, the data showed the majority of labour force with disability were in Urban Villages (6,185), 3,708 were in rural areas and 1,661 in Cities & Towns.

 

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28th February 2024

The essence of community and local flair reigns supreme as St Louis Lager takes a bold step with its ambitious “Hype the Homegrown” Initiative, designed to bolster the visibility and support for local artists and home-based brands, weaving them into the fabric of mainstream success through revolutionary partnerships.

The launchpad for this endeavor has been set with a plethora of creative projects. Among them, a musical odyssey titled “The Journey,” featuring the fusion of local House and Pop virtuoso Hanceford Magapatona, widely celebrated as Han C. Enriching the project further are talents like the visionary Producer Flex the Ninja and the RnB Phenom, Priscilla K, whose track “Away” has captured hearts. This six-track EP, ripe with local genius, is up for grabs across all streaming services, inviting listeners to a world of Botswana’s finest.

But “Hype the Homegrown” transcends the bounds of musical exploration, delving into the realms of fashion and lifestyle, stitching a dynamic collaboration with Collections by B.K. Proctor. This venture, rooted in 100% local ownership by the trailblazing Rapper and Entrepreneur Bokang β€œBK” Proctor alongside Digital Maverick, Fifi Wale, showcases a vibrant melding of St Louis Lager and Collections by BK Proctor insignias across a series of street-savvy sneakers and tees. These exclusive pieces have hit the shelves at the Collections by BK Proctor boutiques within the bustling hubs of Gaborone Fairgrounds Mall, Grand Palm, and Toro Junction Mall in Francistown.

Unveiled by the marketing maestro of Kgalagadi Breweries Limited, Gaamanngwe Ramokgothwane, this initiative not only shines a spotlight on KBL’s enduring commitment to the arts but also underscores the wealth of creativity brewing within Botswana, deserving of grand stages and accolades. Ramokgothwane passionately advocates for a collective embrace of this homegrown brilliance, positioning “Hype the Homegrown” as not merely a campaign but a clarion call to action for institutions far and wide to champion and elevate local talent.

Echoing this sentiment, KBL’s steward Carlos Bernitt envisions a future where these artisans not only sparkle locally but also etch their mark on the global canvas, all through the unified backing of Batswana. With “Hype the Homegrown,” a legacy of innovation, creativity, and inspiration is in the making.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Seipati Olweny, acknowledged this campaign as a turning point for the creative community. She stressed the indispensable role of local talent in crafting Botswana’s cultural tapestry and stimulating economic diversification, pledging unwavering support from the ministry towards this collective journey of uplifting local flair.

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