Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Can somebody please save Gabane!

It is only a few kilometers from the country’s capital, but if one takes a drive through Gabane in the Kweneng South East Constituency, one could mistake it for some hamlet in the then Bechuanaland.

Satellite villages such as Tlokweng and Mogoditshane have benefited from being a stone’s throw from the capital city, but that is evidently not the case with Gabane.

First of all, there are no roads in Gabane. There is one strip of tarred road joining the village to the Trans Kgalagadi Highway, which ends at the kgotla. In the rest of the village there are meandering strips of narrow dusty ‘roads’ with craters, as referring to them as potholes would be a gross understatement. Even the road to the village clinic is not tarred, I can only imagine the pain that a patient must endure when transported through those craters. An ambulance would have a hard time negotiating a speed of 40 kilometers an hour. The situation becomes worse during the rainy season.

The sad part is that some two months back some of the dusty roads got a ‘facelift’ as soil was dumped on them and then compacted. One need not be a roads engineer to realise that the soil would be washed away come the first light rain showers as no provision was made for rain water drainage, and that is exactly what happened. I always shake my head in disbelief when I have to negotiate a crater on the ‘road’ knowing that a company or someone has lined their pockets with hundreds of thousands of Pula for such shoddy work. This is daylight robbery of the taxpayer. Who is accountable?

We had our hopes raised when told that some roads in the village would be tarred before the end of this year. But those hopes were dashed when Assistant Minister Oreeditse Molebatsi announced in a kgotla meeting that the project had been suspended because of the economic recession. We were crushed by this announcement. Hoping for better roads had kept us going.

Economic recession or not, the roads situation in Gabane is critical and anybody who cares should treat it as such. Is it right to blame the economic recession when there is ample evidence of wasteful spending? It hurts that millions of pula are poured into projects such as Specially Nominated Councilors and Constituency League when infrastructure is non-existent in some parts of the country 43 years after independence. A month’s salary for these 113 specially nominated councilors would tar many roads in Gabane. What criteria does the government use for embarking on certain projects and shelving others? I propose that in addition to the 5Ds the letter ‘P’ be added, and that is Priorities.

The second most nagging problem in Gabane is water. Hardly any month passes without water supply being cut in the village, sometimes for weeks on end. When schools are open this means students have to be sent home because there is no water to cook for them.

I know that water supply can occasionally be disrupted for a short while for such things as repairs, but in Gabane cutting water supply has become the norm, and not the exception. I have come to the conclusion that whoever is responsible for Gabane water supply does not view people going for days without water as a problem.

Now for the icing on the cake. After one negotiates through the craters and comes home to an empty tap, one also has to endure a blackout as electricity is cut by the BPC during load shedding. Such is life in Gabane. No Roads. No Water. No Electricity.

In conclusion, I urge the Minister and the Permanent Secretary responsible for Roads to visit Gabane and see the state of roads in the village. Similarly the Minister and Permanent Secretary responsible for Water should demand an explanation from officials responsible for water reticulation in the village.

As for the political representatives in the village, the MP and the Councillors, I have a question. Do you know what your role is?

I long for the day when I will hear the MP for the area, Mr. Mmoloki Raletobana, arguing passionately in Parliament against the state of roads and the water situation in Gabane with the same venom that he had for the Minister of Local Government recently on the way he nominated specially elected councillors. I also long for the day when the MP will ask a question in Parliament on when Gabane roads will be tarred, instead of asking whether Constituency League players have insurance. For the sake of Gabane, I hope that day will come.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.