Thirst in the midst of abundance

Pouring out: Ntimbale Dam is 95% full. PIC: GOOGLE EARTH
Pouring out: Ntimbale Dam is 95% full. PIC: GOOGLE EARTH

MASUNGA: North East District (NED) councillors are bemoaning a shortage of water in their area despite having a dam, which is currently 95 percent full, the highest level for the country’s national dams.

Ntimbale Dam, one of the most successful in Botswana, often has plenty of water. Surprisingly, however, villagers within its vicinity complain about shortages of water.

The villagers’ cries for water finally broke through to local leaders, when councillors raised the emotive issue during this week’s full council meeting.

According to councillors, the main problem – as simple as it sounds – is that the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) is failing to supply the residents with enough water. For the councillors, water is also a potential hotspot with the electorate, as many campaigned and won on the promise of resolving the shortages in the area.

Siviya councillor Bakani Badziyili said he had complained about water shortages for years but his pleas had fallen on deaf ears.

“The people of Siviya, Jackalas II and Mabudzane spend up to a month without water, leaving them with no option but to use unhygienic water from the river,” he says.

“The situation increased after WUC took the services of water provision from the council a few years ago.”

He asked the local authority to immediately lobby for interventions to help affected villages.

“The situation could be solved if the boreholes that used to supply the villages with water before the construction of Ntimbale Dam were opened again.”

Senyawe councillor William Tatosi echoed Badziyili’s sentiments saying that the water situation was better a few years back when villages in the district got water from boreholes.

Tatosi said the situation today was painful because the district had an abundance of water at Ntimbale Dam. He added that the council should be given back the responsibility of supplying villages with water because WUC is failing.

Councillor Alfred Makgetho of Ramokgwebana supported his colleagues saying that villagers were drinking dirty water from the river because of dire water shortages that could go for many weeks.

Themashanga councillor Kudzani Tobokwani complained that residents in his ward had long applied for water to be connected at their homes but WUC has not responded to their requests.

The councillor for Mapoka village Paulos Nkoni complained of water leakages in his area saying the problem had been in existence since WUC took water services from the council.

He pleaded with WUC to improve water services within the district because they had plenty of water at Ntimbale Dam that should be benefiting the community.

Commenting, NED council chairperson Florah Mpetsane, instructed WUC to attend to the water crisis expeditiously saying the situation is now out of control.

Mpetsane ordered WUC to send a water bowser to supply water whilst they attended to the water crisis.

The general manager of WUC for Masunga/Tutume Abednico Mooka admitted that WUC was not adequately supplying villages in the Tati East constituency with water.

Mooka attributed the problem to old pipelines that continually burst because they could not handle the pressure of water from the dam.

“The pipes that are used are of substandard material that can only handle water pressure from boreholes.  They are not suited to handle water pressure from the dam and as a result they burst and have lots of leakages,” said Mooka.

He promised that the situation would be solved ‘very soon’ as they were waiting for funding of around P185 million that had been earmarked for improving the supply of water in the area.

“Ntimbale Dam supplies 36 villages with water and are currently faced with high demand of water connection in homes ever since the introduction of water coupons,” he said.

Mooka promised the council that water bowser would be distributed amongst the affected villages as soon as possible.

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