PALAPYE: It became apparent at the recently concluded Palapye sub-council meeting that the population growth in the fast-developing village affected provision of amenities.
The civic leaders illustrated a contrast in the growing village and the provision of services and development of infrastructure. They argued that the system is disappointing the transformation.
With the recent springing of developments, Palapye bears the spirit of a town and many people envisage it as well on its way to being the country’s third city.
In the recent years, many farmers were resettled to pave way for developments with hopes for new economic opportunities.
Construction started in earnest in the village a little over a decade ago with a state-of-the-art Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) and the constrcution of Morupule B Power Plant.
New opportunities beckoned as construction sites gathered speed. An influx of people poured into the village for employment. Different construction sites mushroomed.
Multi-million pula projects including a modern police station, glass factory, a huge bus and taxi terminal, pipe factory, fire department, Botswana Housing Corporation houses and the erection of power lines to different areas of the country and the construction of the North-South water carrier followed one after the other.
Hundreds of people were employed in the construction phases of these springing developments. With construction ending, many were left jobless and roaming the streets of the village.
The developments did not stop since the recent sites of the construction of the shopping complexes created more employment but they could not provide enough opportunities for the construction workers of the last decade’s developments.
Now that the construction of the shopping complexes is complete, the workers are back on the village streets, unemployed.
Unemployment was cited at the sub-council meet as a national problem that is eluding the ruling government.
What worried the civic leaders is the slow pace of developments and basic amenities to meet the growing demands of the village.
They sad reality as articulated by the civic leaders is that the village is struggling to deal with the impact of a rapidly growing population.
They feel the growth of the village has put the authorities under pressure to deliver adequate services in different quarters and deliver long overdue infrastructure.
The first blunder is the lack of an ample health facility to cater for the dense population. Councillors decried a primary hospital is proving not sufficient.
They said the sharply growing population has outgrown the current hospital that opened over four decades ago.
They noted the overcrowding of the hospital on a regular basis, shortage of recovery rooms and shortage of medical doctors as a set back to providing adequate health care.
They said nurses and the hospital staff are overwhelmed and struggling to keep up with the demand.
“The hospital is dilapidated and inhabitable, it is overcrowded and patients are frustrated, instead of a quality health care the hospital aggravates patients’ health conditions,” councillor for Khurumela ward George Makhura said
“Palapye needs a new hospital facility with an adequate number of medical doctors that will be able to take care of the health of the people.” Makhura also complained about the overcrowded schools.
He said the schools are failing to accommodate the growing numbers of students. He said in some schools the students are taught in makeshift classes, sitting on the floors and using their laps for support when writing.
He said the village has outgrown three junior secondary schools and the single senior secondary school that also caters for part of the Tswapong areas.
He said the ratio of students to teachers compromises the quality of education.
“When results are not forthcoming we blame teachers and students, but the situation in our schools is disastrous and needs immediate intervention.”
“For such a small national population, our children should not be sitting on the floors, but that is the case with our schools in Palapye.
The number of students in secondary schools and pupils in our primary schools have surpassed the capacity of our schools.”
The civic leaders also decried the state of internal roads, which they said were in a terrible state. They said traffic congestion is on the rise and the village’s main road is overwhelmed.
They said the morning and afternoon rush hours are becoming frustrating for road users.
Khurumela/Mmalekokopu ward councilor, Omphemetse Kgotlaetsile condemned the village transport networks as dismal.
He said lack of traffic lights in the village frustrated road users. “It is abysmal that even smaller villages than Palapye have internal traffic lights, while here in Palapye, a big village, we only meet traffic lights at the A1 highway,” he said.
Jordan Makhura of Morupule ward poured scorn on ungazetted roads, saying paved road networks would make a difference.
He, however, noted that Palapye road network faced challenges.
He said people living in the Extension areas are disconnected and are forced to walk long distances to access transport.
Makhura defended taxi operators after the sub-council chairperson lashed out at them in his speech for their reluctance to deliver clients to their homes. “The problem is not with the taxi operators; these people are in business and like every businessperson, they want to satisfy the clients but the state of our roads disappoints them.”
“A little is done and we appreciate, but there are no roads in the Extensions. The whole area has untarred roads that turn into rivers during rainy seasons and become bumpy and dusty when dry, and that causes damage to people’s cars.”
He said the road networks are dreadful and far behind. He added that Palapye has grown, and there is need for radical infrastructure development and delivery of services, and until then the village will be held back from achieving its growth potential.