As Ministry abandons controversial Masama water pipeline project

The construction of a 100 kilometre water pipeline from Masama wellfields to Mmamashia water treatment plant whose funding was recently rejected by parliament is now water under the bridge.

The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila, told local media that they have totally abandoned the project which was expected to address water shortfall in the southern part of the country.

Recently, before it closed, parliament rejected supplementary budget requests by finance minister, Kenneth Matambo, for the approval of P900 million which was supposed to go towards the design and construction of the pipeline.

The project was expected to augment water shortage in the Greater Gaborone area which has daily demand of 145 million litres of water against the 80 million litres currently pumped to the southern part of the country through the North South Carrier I (NSC I) pipeline.

“We have serious water stress in the country, and as the ministry, we had proposed a project that is known as the Masama pipeline, we presented this to parliament and was declined. So, as the ministry, that project is closed,” said Mzwinila.

He said they had proposed the project due to water supply deficit in the Greater Gaborone area which currently stands at 65 million litres per day.

According to Mzwinila, the demand for water in the Greater Gaborone has an annual increase of five percent and it is expected to reach 215 million litres per day by 2024.

Since the project has now been abandoned, Mzwinila said the remaining options are the costly ones which run into billions of Pula.

These alternatives include drawing water from the Lesotho water highlands, drawing water from the ocean through Namibia as well as from the Chobe River in the northern part of the country.

But as it stands, the minister said he is not sure which option will be considered with the Masama pipeline having failed as parliament has refused to approve the funds.

Before parliament rejected a request by Matambo, the procuring entity, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) had already selected its preferred bidder, Khato Civils to carry out the design and the construction of the 100km pipeline.

Although a contract was yet to be signed as WUC was waiting for the approval of the funds, the bidder was however notified and according to WUC Acting CEO, Gaselemogwe Senai, the corporation will invoke the clause of the agreement which stated that the works will not begin until funds are approved.

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