FRANCISTOWN: After being forced to relocate to pave way for the city developments, the people of the low-income suburbs of Somerset East find themselves living a miserable life on the outskirts of Gerald Estate.
Early this year, residents found themselves with no option as they were forced to relocate to pave way for the construction of a 30km dual Tonota/Francistown road.
Confusion reigns amongst these people as they are faced with numerous issues of concern surrounding their new homes.
As part of their lives, these people now had to walk for close to 4km to catch the nearest combi to town. These people are far from services they had to walk close to 3km to access the nearest clinic and a primary school.
Back at their previous homesteads at Somerset, walking to work, shops and clinics was the most affordable thing. In fact they could do so without cost as they were located in the city centre.
These residents are the same people who used to cross the road to buy bread at Nzano mall, cross the road to catch a bus at the bus rank and walk few meters to Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital (NRH)
Now these people are stuck in no life area without resources not even a tuck-shop to buy matches in case there is power cuts at night.
During a visit to this location recently residents did not hesitate to share their plight with The Monitor disclosing the terror of wakeful nights due to rats eating them alive. Imagine this, whilst in the deep sleep suddenly you are waken up by pain on the sole of your feet; or you wake up with wounds all over your feet: This is the sad life of people of Somerset at their new dwellings.
These people are now part of the bush that used to be the home of the monster rats, popularly known as peba nthube in Setswana. This creature looks exactly like a rat but with a long nose, big in size and long tailed.
Kenalemang Bonolo, 44, a mother of four said, “ We are living a miserable life being terrorised by rats in our sleep, together
Bonolo said that to avoid long walks to town to buy vegetables, she decided to make a backyard garden but failed because cattle from neighbouring cattle post have destroyed the garden and ate all of the vegetables.
She said that her children are now struggling to go to school because they walk long distances to catch a combi and the situation gets worse when its raining.
Senior citizen Kganetso Bowe, 84, said being relocated from Somerset is the worst thing to have ever happened to her.
“As you can see, I am not able to walk, I am old and walking 3km to catch a combi is impossible. We rely on taxi special whilst we do not have money. We buy our groceries in town and are forced to take taxi special that costs P50, “ she said
Bowe said that they were promised that all services would be addressed when told to relocate but was shocked that not even public transport has knowledge about their new location.
“Look at our plots they are very small, we wanted to build big houses but failed because of this plots, we were given P800 as compensation for the land that was cut out of our original plots but it was not enough, we have been cheated, “ she said.
Before their relocation the former mayor James Kgalajwe confirmed that all was being addressed in making sure that residents settle well at their new homes. He said that residents were compensated accordingly and council will make sure that developments come their way.
Central Business District (CBD) have been drawn at Gerald Estate with a junior secondary school on construction process but it appears to take ages as these residents run out of patience.