Imagine. Only a couple of weeks after suggesting that the government really did need to do something about Odiâ€™s two disingenuous bridges, the road was closed and the heavy machinery arrived firstly to cut a deep trench for a pipeline and then to demolish the bridges. Wonderful.
It’s mildly tempting to believe that I had something to do with that sudden development but government thinking and government plans can take many years to come to fruition. For instance, a start was made in Mochudi around fifty years ago, with a leather craft project which mutated into the various leather projects in Pilane, the clogs and sandals and so on, and the attempt to start a tannery there. Inevitably on a much more ambitious scale in the 1960s came too van Rensburg’s tannery project at Swaneng.
And now, fifty years later, the government is taking steps to ensure that Lobatse becomes a major leather producer! The reality is that fifty years or so are likely to pass, not just a few weeks or months, before the government feels ready to replicate what was, somewhere, earlier attempted. Perhaps Bokspit’s polka dance is the best possible example because it too has taken the same fifty post independence years to be known to the government and the rest of the country.
But a great deal of obvious significance is now happening in Odi and the absence of information appears to be quite startling.
Take the new trunk pipeline which has been laid from Modipane to Odi and now pushed onwards cutting through the main road immediately before the bridge on the Odi side. From there, the pipeline can only run through the President’s farm – but to where? Tlokweng maybe. Then take the other deeply laid pipeline now being laid in the President’s farm parallel with the fence which borders the Mmamashia-Odi road. The supposition must be that this is a new sewerage line now serving the still mostly unoccupied Phakalane BHC houses. But to where does it go?
Then consider the two bridges which were crudely put together sometime in the mid 1980s when the old road to Odi was replaced by the current one. Now the closure of the road diverts part of the Odi bound traffic via Matabele, as it was diverted not so long ago, and the other part across the drift where it picks up the old now abandoned road from Mmamashia. The weavers first constructed this drift in the Gowenius years in the early 1970s. It was then effectively abandoned by the village which believed that it had no value, but slowly brought back into use as people built new homes in that area of the village.
Now, with so much going in cycles, the once almost abandoned drift has become of crucial importance to the traffic moving to and from Odi and the road which connects it to the new tarmacked road has now been flattened and levelled. A revelation. But the focus of all this activity is the river and the construction, there during the next nine months, of two new bridges is bound to be of major interest to every one who lives in or around Odi or who uses that road on a regular basis, whether from the river villages or from the other side of the border.
Strangely, given its immense importance to so many, it appears not to be known how much the new bridges are estimated to cost, who has the contract, and what are the designs? But then nothing has been said about that pipeline which will carry water across the President’s farm to Phakalane or some other part of Gaborone instead of following the orthodox route to the treatment plant at Mmamashia. But then nothing has also been said about the sewerage pipeline – what else can it be? - which appears to be working its way towards the river. But if the eventual destination of Phakalane’s sewerage is the river, there will be people in Odi who will wonder if the sewerage from its new College also ends up there? Nobody has ever explained that it doesn’t.
So, now we have a river, the Notwane, which at this particular geographical point below the hill, leaves the Gaborone freehold block and enters the tribal Kgatleng. It is at this point that three major services conjoin – the road, the water pipeline, and possibly sewerage. But about all three elements, there is a total absence of information. Why? It may be that what occurs on privately owned land is not regarded as anybody’s business other than the owner. On the other hand, when information is not made available, people come up with their own theories which can sometimes be seriously misleading. But what can the problem be? For any community the combination of a major road, new bridges, water supply and sewerage is bound to be of enormous importance. So why this incredible silence?