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Govt could make car ownership expensive

Transport experts from the Canadian consultancy firm, have advised Botswana government to make car ownership and use more expensive, saying rapid increase in the population of cars in the country may worsen traffic congestion, road accidents and pollution.

In the transport master plan, experts from CPCS consultancy firm stated that Botswana has experienced rapid increase in car ownership. This has been leading to increased air pollution, accidents and congestion. It is recommended that the car ownership be made progressively more expensive to discourage the car ownership growth, said the experts in the master plan report written to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

According to the experts, potential intervention to minimize negative impact associated with increases in the population of cars is introduction of mandatory road worthiness test and requirements for insurance for all vehicles, as well as increasing vehicle import duties, saying that could encourage use of a greener transport program. Personal car use may also need to be made progressively more expensive and alternative transport options should be available so that personal vehicle usage can be reduced; for example, in the form of high-quality bus service and non-motorised transport, said the experts.

The experts stated that the transport sector is the top polluter of atmosphere as the rapidly increasing vehicle ownership has increased emissions. In the future, transports impact on the environment needs to be minimized and provision for low emission modes needs to be made. To aid in minimizing transports impact on the environment, a number of strategies will be considered.

These can include promoting the use of small low polluting cars that use alternative fuels, developing low/no polluting modes of transport such as non-motorised transport (biking and cycling), and encouraging ride sharing to reduce the number of trips on the system, and introducing high-quality bus services, said the experts.

The experts indicated that changes in the climate due to air pollution are already being felt in Botswana and are likely to affect the agricultural sector. Climate affects the agricultural industry that depends on both a consistent and favourable climate. Climate change may reduce certain crop yields by 20- 30 percent in the next 30 years, and the largest losses are likely to be in developing countries such as Botswana, said the experts.

They stated that while transport can play a large role in reducing CO2 emissions in Botswana and added that strategies that include polluter pays concepts will be considered. These include strategies such as setting up a transport environmental monitoring unit that prepares air quality management plans, promotes the use of small low-polluting cars, penalizes more heavy oil consuming vehicles, and provide scrapping incentives for old vehicles.

In the report the experts noted that a range of issues related to Gaborone traffic congestion have been identified. They stated that congestion hinders mobility as the peak hour demand in Gaborone is about 10 times off-peak demand due to all schools and the public sector offices start at the same time in the morning.

There is a need for measures to reduce congestion, which may not necessarily require transport-related interventions as measures such as staggering the start time of public schools and public offices or adopting flexible work hours could be effective. At the same time, measures to discourage people from driving into the city centre such as parking restraint and measures to encourage the use of mass public transport, such as integration of park and ride with the public transport system can be implemented to reduce vehicles entering the city centre, said the experts.

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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

20th March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

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BOCRA detects new cyber attacks targeted at Botswana

20th March 2023

Government owned communications regulator, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) recently detected several cyber-attacks targeted at national information and communications infrastructure, companies and home routers in this country.

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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP

17th March 2023

As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.

Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.

Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.

He made a special appeal to the PAP:  “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”

Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”

According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.

As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.

The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.

Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.

Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.

He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.

“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.

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