Floods ravage NW tourism heartland

The low lying Makgadikgadi Pans area was devastated by Cyclone Dineo
The low lying Makgadikgadi Pans area was devastated by Cyclone Dineo

MAUN: Up to 19 homes have been destroyed by floods in the tourism area of Khwai, forcing affected families into tents. Khwai is a prime tourism spot located next to Moremi game reserve.

Deputy District Commissioner, Angelinah Leano told Mmegi recently that roads leading into Khwai are inundated with floodwaters.

Area councillor, Kebareeditse Ntshogotho said the floodwaters had damaged the busy main road in the area affecting tourism.

“It is almost impossible to access Khwai coming from Mababe, which is the main route used by tourists and Khwai residents.

“There are plans to open up an alternative route to solve the situation. I have long complained about this issue to the Council, telling them about the poor status of the road and bridges, but the council failed to act,” Ntshogotho said.

Other popular tourist destinations affected by the flooding include Ditshiping, Xakao, Daonara and Murutsha settlements. Area councillor Luke Motlaleselelo said communities living in the islands have asked to be relocated.

“We are calling on the authorities to respond quickly to the situation,” he said.

However, a dispute has arisen between flood-affected people and Government pertaining to the relocations. Many villagers are demanding to be relocated to Xakao, which is an island located on higher ground, but Government officials disagree.

Leano explained: “They want to be relocated to Xakao which does not have amenities while we prefer to relocate them to places such as Shorobe, which have basic amenities. We are however, still considering their requests”.

Elsewhere in the area, six households were also affected in Chanoga village with three families supplied with tents. Leano complained that recipients of disaster relief measures do not return the materials after the floods, impacting on authorities’ ability to respond to new threats.

Leano said her office was overstretched as it was also helping to coordinate the response to floods in Gweta.

“Gweta does not have a Roads Department and my office has been helping, especially in the area of public transportation.

“Due to these floods, buses are using the Letlhakane/Orapa road to and from Francistown.,” she said, adding that, “However a special licence has been granted to one bus operator to service the Zoroga- Maun route, which has been cut off  by the floods”.

The District Commissioner’s office recently mobilised 20 tents from Gantsi to help families affected in Gweta.

Dr Naidu Kurugundla of the Department of Water Affairs in Maun told Mmegi that the recent floods affecting the Okavango Delta were due to the recent rainfalls and not the annual flood coming from Angola.

He said the annual flood usually arrives in April and May. Communities are worried that the rains may worsen the annual floods.

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