The Gaborone City Council (GCC) has, in the last few weeks, cleared roadsides and other land with the use of spades, leaving the top soil vulnerable to erosion.
These come as clean-up campaigns, undertaken in conjunction with Ward Development Committees (WDC).
The GCC has, to date, cleared Game City Circle and part of the Rainbow Circle, along the Western-by-Pass.
In other areas, from the Fairgrounds Mall to the Polytechnic Circle, the grass has been removed with spades, leaving the land bear. This area is very close to the International Trade Fairgrounds and, with the rainy season over, the dust will cause havoc, especially during the International Trade Fair Day sometime in August.
“In some areas, the GCC is doing good work pruning trees,” said Dr. Wanda Mphinyane, a lecturer at the University of Botswana, Department of Environmental Science. “But clearing of land with spades is cause for concern.”
Mphinyane said that, since the GCC has qualified environmental officers, they should know better than to leave the soil bear.
She told the Sunday Standard that, if soil is left bare, it would cause a lot of dust when the wind comes in July, adding that many harmful bacteria are present in the soil, making it unhealthy to breathe. She singled out those with asthmatic problems as being prone to be affected the most.
Additionally, she said, the silt from the soil can block the drainage pipes when it rains, thus creating more problems.
The Public Relations Officer of the GCC, Seeletso Lekgaba, said, “GCC is aware of the impact of leaving the soil bear.”
Lekgaba said that GCC had instructed the WDCs to stop clearing the land with spades, but this only came after the Sunday Standard had presented a questionnaire to the GCC seeking explanations as to why the GCC was undertaking such a task in total disregard to environmental fallout.
Lekgaba confirmed that they had not carried out an environmental impact assessment on this matter but had relied heavily on the Parks Division, which has qualified personnel to deal with the matter.
Lekgaba said that they were informed at a meeting with the WDC that some people had used the open space as a dump site, thus some people had taken the issue upon themselves to clear the land.
She further elaborated that through the program of Ipelegeng, they intend to build storm water drainage and reconstruct the old ones.
Ipelegeng is a program that involves the members of the public in improving their surrounding areas and is under the GCC as a labour intensive public works program.
The GCC held its emergency meeting on May 12, a day after the Sunday Standard presented them with a questionnaire whose questions pointed out the damage caused to the environment by the clean up exercise.