While President Khama was at the opening of the Debswana Cut-8 project, praising the continuing development efforts in our country, critics were sceptical as to how these new developments improve the lives of Batswana. At the centre of the criticism is the construction of what is to be the largest dam in the whole of Botswana, the Dikgatlhong Dam, situated in the small village of Robelela, 52 kilometres from the mining town of Selebi-Phikwe. The criticism was mostly based on the fact that the company, Sinohydro, which tendered to build the Dam, is denying local micro- entrepreneurs the chance to earn a living by selling food and other commodities to the workers.
The other argument was that although the project brought electricity to the village, it was of no use to them because they could not afford to install it in their homes.
They said that another development, which is the tarred road leading to the construction site of the dam, had also claimed two lives of Robelela residents.┬á ┬á┬á
Chief engineer at the site, Boingotlo Mpho, confirmed that indeed Sinohydro is the sole beneficiary of the project. The company has its own kitchen at the premises and it sells the food to its workers and vendors are not allowed to camp on the premises.
Dwellers of the area are reportedly unhappy because they feel that the development has not brought about any changes to their livelihoods, unlike at projects such as the Cut-8 where some of the locals make a living by selling to the workers.
The 1.3 billion pula project is expected to provide water to Batswana by 2014 to sort out the issue of growing water scarcity and cover for the misuse of freshwater.
The project is also expected to be one of the ┬ácountry’s tourism attractions.
Mpho said that to achieve this goal hasn’t been easy because of the number of challenges they have had to face. He counted the economic crisis as well as floods in the area as some of the factors that hindered their progress before.
He is, however, confident that the project will meet the deadline.
“Currently there has been a mass resignation of about 87 employees due to salary disputes but we have the situation under control now,” said Mpho.