Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) is threatening to approach the High Court to force President Ian Khama to declare Gweta village a disaster zone following floods that have submerged the village.
Gweta, Zoroga and Nata villages have been ravaged by floods in the recent weeks and the number of people who have lost food and shelter to the deluge is increasing by the day.
BOPEU Deputy President Matilda Ogaufi Masane on Friday said apart from approaching the court to force President Khama to declare Gweta a disaster zone they were also considering instructing their members to down tools. Masane who was on her way from Gweta on a fact finding mission said houses and property belonging to their members have been submerged.
“A number of our members have been affected by the floods for the past few weeks. When we enquired from the Tutume Sub District why they do not declare the area a disaster zone we were informed that only President Khama can do that and currently he is outside the country,” said Masane.
She revealed that nurses and doctors were currently sharing accommodation with mothers of newly born babies in the maternity wards.
“This is something that should be treated as a matter of urgency but we have a feeling that now the issue is being politicised and that is why the government is dragging its feet to address this issue and declare it a disaster,” she said.
She said the damage continues everyday because the level of water is increasing. “One wonders why the Government is not treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves as it did with villages such as Ramotswa and Lobatse,” she said.
Masane added that “the flood water is stagnant and is still covering vast areas of land and since the rainy season is not yet over the situation remains potentially fluid and is likely to be difficult to manage if there is no urgent intervention by the authorities.”
Deputy District Commissioner for Tutume Sub District Kabelo Tshekiso said while Nata Gweta constituency were both hit by the floods, Gweta village was the most affected.”We have since established that at least 119 people have been affected and they have been evacuated to the Community Hall and Day Care Centre. Some have opted to stay with relatives while others have been moved to a camp site,” he said.
He added that in Zoroga and Tsokatshaa villages at least 55 and 60 families were affected respectively. He denied reports that they were dragging their feet to declare the area a disaster zone saying their assessment was still ongoing. “It is only after we have made an assessment that we can be able to make recommendations to our superiors. People should also note that a vast area of land has been covered by water. At the moment we are still trying to establish the source of the water and it is not line in the northern part of the country where it was easy to tell that the water was from overflowing rivers,” he said.
Department of Roads spokesperson Doreen Moapare cautioned road users of the flood plain on the A3 road approximately 10km from Zoroga village, and approximately 40km from Nata village in the Central District to take extra care.
She said the flooded road is almost one (1) km in length. Zoroga village is between Nata and Gweta villages.
“Water depths are currently estimated at half a meter at the deepest point of the flooded road. From observations the flooded road is gradually eroding from vehicle movement and aquatic activity,” she said.
Moapare added that “Therefore if the situation continuous to deteriorate there will be no alternative but to temporary shut down the road for road users and public safety. The alternative route will then be to use the Nata ÔÇô Orapa ÔÇô Rakops ÔÇô Mopipi route to access Maun and Ghanzi from the East.”