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So What’s New?

SANDY GRANT
Then there came the rain, friendly in Odi but with ferocious wind and hail in Modipane, Tlokweng and parts of Gaborone. But despite everything else, rain has to take priority over everything else, does it not? Even if, as with us, it meant getting stuck in the mud, when driving, not just the usual once, but twice.

Amazingly, a gent sped past us through one of the pools in which we were stuck, emerged at the other side, stopped, got out grabbed a shovel and came back to help us out. And then explained that on such a bad road, it is necessary to drive dirty, get the revs going and drive like mad.

A lovely man and such a joy to experience something of the good old days which can now seem so far away. With you it may be different but during those long dry months – no, I am not referring to the levy – I have cared lovingly for my various plants, given them water – by bucket, of course – have talked with them, encouraged them and asked if they are okay– all without response. But come that wonderful rain, and they are all instantly on the move, leafing, flowering, rejoicing. It is one of our annual miracles, always to be relished. But what else has been new?

There has been the new road from Phakalane to Gaborone Broadhurst or the other way around, if you prefer. It’s an important new development for Gaborone being, not least, the first new road to be constructed additional to the four highways which previously determined everything that came in and out. The new road also provides much needed relief to the Phakalane motorists who have been boxed in for so many years.

But it is a zany kind of road, one S bend after another but also unusually scenic as it passes alongside the startlingly large sewerage ponds.  But then came the hitch. Finding construction teams at work on it so soon after it had been formally opened, we assumed that they were putting in speed bumps to slow down the traffic.

 Alas, they were there to put right the mess that the rain had made of that lovely new road. But then there were all sorts of other new developments, a startling number, in fact, within so short a time.

There was the government’s decision to call it a day with the BCL in Phikwe with the immediate response that this would mean the imminent emergence of Phikwe as the country’s second ghost town. I have much sympathy with those in varying degrees of despair in Phikwe because the government’s failure to get Lobatse up and running again can give Phikwe minimal hope that if will do

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any better there.

 My impression with Phikwe is that thirty or so years of consultancies in one form or another, beginning with the Irish in the mid 1990s - has achieved remarkably little, with each one needing more and more money, bigger salaries and larger cars and simply, more imposing, if not necessarily more competent people.

Given that all the new towns that have been created since 1966 have been mining towns – that is Phikwe, Orapa, Jwaneng, and Sowa - there may be the first beginnings of an uncomfortable realisation that in 20 years or so, the country may be having five ghosts town and not the current one, or is it two? But let’s shift away from a topic that is at the least, uncomfortable and switch to one which can give us all a much needed, lift.

No, not the national airline – but the national railway – all black, white and blue of it. Not so long ago, there was much trumpeting with the re-emergence of the national flag carrier, the blue train. Which promptly didn’t or wasn’t. Whatever, it didn’t work. The South African suppliers being blamed for pulling a fast one.

Which, is surely unlikely,  But then one of the new trains just happened to drive into the stationery back of another on this one lane track, causing the usual millions of pula of damage. As with cars on the roads, these things do happen. But this time around it was pushing matters too far to put the blame on the South Africans. So feelings of betrayal deepen, as with those of national ignominy.  It is shaming, is it not?

But there were other delights to savour. For those of us in Odi, there was now a choice between doing our shopping at the new mega complex at Pilane or at the  new extended shopping complex in Phakalane, with another there, in the wings,  to be unveiled in the near future.

Seemingly, these new shopping malls in the urban areas have no problem securing the usual South African companies as tenants.

In contrast, it has apparently been decreed that the Pilane Mall must be more indigenous, stand on its own feet, get the locals involved. Would such a huge investment have been made if it had been previously known that the Ministry was about to implement a policy for one place and a different one, elsewhere?



Etcetera II

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