North West District Council Chairman Kebareeditse Ntsogotho has expressed concern over a growing number of people who frequent places of entertainment along the banks of the Thamalakane river in Maun.
One such place which is flocked by revelers is the renowned Matlapana Beach along the way to Moremi Game Reserve which receives hundreds of people from all spheres especially during weekends on various missions.
Boat cruising or mokoro rides are reeling from the aftermath of COVID 19.
He noted that despite efforts by government to help contain the disease, there are a lot of people who still do as they wish whenever they like, thus putting the lives of innocent people in danger.
Of recent, he said his office has been overwhelmed with reports that a lot of people have been seen camping at the place and another hotspot at Samedupe along the way to Makalamabedi village even though no arrangements have been made with council for such activities to take off since it has been observed that they also litter and make these places uninhabitable.
Most people in Maun are naturally fun lovers who always get excited whenever rivers start flowing and it is during these times that they go all out to celebrate such events in many ways they find appropriate. But this time around the district leadership says it is faced with a dilemma of trying to contain them.
At a special full council briefing on Monday, Ntsogotho lamented that it is highly likely that Maun might in no distant future be classified as a red zone leading to a lockdown, should people continue with this kind of behavior, also taking in to consideration that even COVID 19 preventive measures are not observed. He urged fellow councilors to do outreaches within their various wards and sensitize their people on the dangers which might befall them as well as to hold discussions on how they can make themselves resourceful as a way of meeting government half way in its attempt to curb the disease.
“A lot more places have been identified and this is so worrisome because this is an issue which we cannot defend as council. We are well aware of the fact that we should be seen to be supporting local businesses, but honestly how do we do such under the current situation? People frequent these places for entertainment which is okay.
“But it becomes a problem now that even social distancing is not observed. Therefore, we take it that those providing services at these areas should take it upon themselves to see to it that laid down rules are obeyed without fail”, he said.
He added that they want to be a transformative council which ensures communities benefit from the rare sites which surround them even though this can only be achieved if they compromise on a lot of issues.
Ngamiland District Commissioner Keolopile Liepego echoed Ntsogotho’s sentiments that indeed there is urgent need to address the situation sooner than later for the reason that the district cannot stand yet another lockdown.
He said currently there many places of entertainment in Maun which are not well managed. The good thing nevertheless he said, is that once the Maun management plan is reviewed, a lot is going to fall into place because those in authority would then know what to do and when. He called on Village Development Committees (VDC’s) and community trusts to step in and see how these places can be utilized as a way to generate income.
However, Matlapana ward councilor Kobamelo Baikgodisi stated that although he is equally disturbed by the escalating numbers of people at the beach, he strongly believes that a lot can still be done by the North-West District Council such as coming up with long term solutions which can benefit residents.
He argued that Ngamiland is a place of tourism and has people coming in and out cannot be ignored. He made mention also that a lot of mokoro (boat) polers and professional guides are always on standby at the beach and other water points waiting for their clients to come for boat cruises because that their only way of making a living.
“Tourism is the biggest employer in this district. There’s nowhere these people can go because they are there for a reason. This goes back to us as the district leadership to come up with ways on how such businesses can operate during these difficult times. We have come up with suggestions in the past but they have never been taken seriously. Ideas have been brought forward even by some of our stakeholders, but the only problem we have as the NWDC is the failure to implement”.