Two-day Gabs Water supply cut looms

Water rationing at Mmopane.PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Water rationing at Mmopane.PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO

PALAPYE: Minister of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila, says he might be forced to shut down Gaborone water supply for two days in the near future.

During a tour of the North South Carrier (NSC) pipeline in here Thursday, Mokaila said the decision would be  to ensure reliability of the pipeline by allowing for maintenance along the 26 kilometre line to Dikalate feeder tank. The line is characterised by wet patches that indicate that there are leaks in the pipes.  “I should be proactive to make difficult decisions. This is what I will have to do than to wait for a disaster to happen. The shutdown would be necessary to divert water from NSC 1 to the new NSC 2 pipeline,” he said.

Mokaila noted that he would make the decision after ensuring that the decision has been sufficiently communicated to the community. “I will not be compelled by an emergency, but it is a proactive decision I will have to make at the right time. This will be in the best interest of the nation,” he said.

The Minister indicated that he has made a decision to transfer all the NSC projects from Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) to his ministry and bring them under one roof, for better management.

“I am looking at the projects that are interlinked because it is important to synchronise them. It does not make sense to have projects divided between MMEWR and WUC,” he said.

Mokaila did not mince his words when he asserted that he would be strict with contractors who fail to deliver water projects as promised, including local contractors sub contracted to those projects.

Mokaila said some of the contractors understaff themselves in order to minimise costs but this impacted negatively on the quality of the service.  He warned that he would take drastic steps to blacklist such companies. “Pull up your socks, otherwise I will put a red pen on you. I am not even willing to compromise on local companies and being ruthless on them will enable them to grow because we want local companies to also become competitive internationally,” he said.

Mokaila explained that the motive behind joint venture partnerships is for big companies to empower and develop smaller ones. He said 40 percent of water projects are contracted to Batswana but the challenge is that most of the contracted local companies do not have the capacity to carry out large projects, but it is government’s intention to see such companies grow. He however regretted that some major contractors use local companies as fronts to win tenders not for citizen empowerment.

Mokaila said since there are more water projects in the pipeline, it would be pleasing to see more water companies coming aboard. He added that all these developments and changes were in the best interest of the country as government spends large sums of money on ensuring that services are delivered to citizens. Hence, he added, it would be unacceptable for contracted companies to fail to avail sufficient resources to meet government’s objective to deliver water.

Mokaila said the current water situation has compelled the country to look further afield including the urgent need to have NSC 3 pipeline that would supply water from the Zambezi River to the southern parts of the country.

He said they have already engaged the World Bank and consultants who were engaged in the Botswana-Lesotho Water Transfer project, to assist them in the preliminary designs to guide on what should be done, adding that the NSC 3 project is one of the priority areas.

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