Businesses and individuals cry foul as taps run dry
Scenes of both young and old standing in winding queues for water at standpipes have become a common sight in and around Gaborone for the past three weeks.
Sometimes they leave the standpipes happily balancing water containers on their heads, but most of the time they leave with nothing as the capital city and the surrounding areas struggle to come to terms with the indefinite shortage of water recently announced by Water Utilities Corporation.(WUC)
Areas that have been affected include Gaborone, Mochudi, Gabane, Kumakwane, Mogoditshane, Tlokweng and Lobatse where various business establishments especially lodges and guest houses have complained of loss of business due to water shortage.
“We have been losing a lot of business as clients checked out to go and look for accommodation where there is flowing water. It is a big challenge for us.” said Amuchilani Omphile of Planet Lodge in Block 3.
In Lobatse, private lawyer Thamsanqa Silitshena of Thami Silitshena Attorneys said the water shortage seemed to worsen by the day.
“There were days when I used to go to bed without a bath and managed to have one the next morning, but these days the situation has worsened and we often wake up in the morning to dry taps,” he said.
The health service has also not been spared. While no incidents of water shortage have been reported at Princess Marina Hospital (PMH) the hospital’s Public Relations Officer, Kagiso Motsumi, said the Block 6 clinic has been adversely affected.
“This clinic is under PMH care as we have moved our specialist diabetic clinic there.
The hospital has since provided the clinic with tanks that store water to address the water shortage experienced,” she said.
Three construction workers, Kitsiso Motsamai (23), Tlotlo Mosetlhe (21), and Pitso Motsoboki (24) who have not enjoyed a decent bath in the past three weeks and occasionally went to bed with dry throats and empty stomachs told The Voice of their water woes in Gabane.
“We leave home at around 5.30am and we sweat the whole day until we knock off after 5pm and get home to no water flowing from the taps. Most of the time we just go to bed hungry and dirty,”Motsoboki said.
The water situation in the village has not gone without any controversy either.
Patrick Mokau, a villager with a borehole told of how he has had his water stolen from his house. “I fetch a week’s supply of water from my borehole at the lands and I keep it in 20litre containers.
This week I found some of the containers missing and when I enquired about them I was told that some Zimbabweans sold each container for P10.00,” he said
Meanwhile Principal Public Relations Officer at WUC, Matida Mmipi said that the water problem was caused by the North South Water Carrier (NSWC) that had experienced a mechanical problem since March 4.
“The situation has affected the Greater Gaborone area which covers Kgatleng to Goodhope. Since then we have relied on the little water from Gaborone dam which has been low in pressure as the dam is also low at 29%.
After the pipe was fixed on March 10 the water started to flow but the whole process takes time, from cleaning to filling up the tanks.
It takes time also for the tanks to release water into the distribution network. We are expecting the situation to normalize by the end of this week,” she said.
Mmipi dismissed allegations that disgruntled WUC artisans who are said to be on a ‘go slow, may have contributed to the situation.