A number of Pilikwe residents have expressed concern about government's intention to build a temporary storage and conditioning facility for disused and abandoned radioactive materials near the village.
The concerns were raised during a Kgotla meeting held in the village on Thursday. Although one of the consultants engaged by government, Mookamedi Masie, of Water Resources Consultants, tried to explain the project's environmental impact, dissenters mostly the youth were unhappy that their village had been chosen for the facility.
According to Masie, the proposed storage facility, the first of its kind in the country, will be secure as it will be made of reinforced concrete and the containers made of lead.
He further said that his company has recommended that the facility be built according to international standards and ensure no toxic materials leave the facility without proper handling. He said that waste collection and handling on site and in the storage facility would be in accordance with the International Atomic Energy (IAEA) standards and Botswana Waste Management Guidelines.
The consultant said his company has recommended that the Radisele-Pilikwe road be upgraded, prompting one of the village elders, Kebinanare Monare, to urge fellow residents to speak out because "this building is not at all about development".
"It will endanger our lives and those of our livestock. Those who are against the idea should be vocal about it and stop beating about the bush," he said.
It became evident that most of the Pilikwe residents, especially elders, were not properly educated about the negative impacts
When Monitor asked if proper consultation had been made with youth from Pilikwe staying outside the village, some of the villagers who support the idea said that they had asked the consultants to give them time to discuss the matter with the youth of Pilikwe who have not been forthcoming.
"We cannot sit on development just because the youth of Pilikwe refuse to attend Kgotla meetings. We have asked the consultants to give us time so that we consult with them but they have not come here to make any contribution," said one of the residents.
Residents were divided so the meeting was adjourned so that water resources consultants could further consult with government and other stakeholders.
If the construction of the facility goes ahead, it will be located about 3km southwest of the village. It is meant to help improve the management of radioactive waste generated from applications in medical, mining, manufacturing, civil and mineral explorations. Some of the negative impacts about the facility are that there will be chances of accidents and exposure to these radioactive materials to people and animals in the area and that the facility will hamper the growth of the village to the southwest.