Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Gov’t, Pilikwe reach settlement over nuclear facility

A long standoff between government and Pilikwe residents in the central district over the multimillion pula construction of radiation facility has now ended as both parties have agreed on the terms and conditions of the erection of the radiation facility.

Information reaching this publication is that a new site has been identified where the state of the art facility will be constructed.   

The minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi told this publication that he is pleased with the recent turn of the events that both the government and the residents of Pilikwe have reached an agreement that they should start from a clean slate rather than take the legal route.

He explained that after he was appointed the new minister he studied the documents surrounding the establishment of the facility something which was not an easy task as the residents were saying something different while the government also came up with its side of the story.

The minister said though he wouldn’t want to take sides and point fingers the standoff has now been resolved amicably without going to the courts as initially planned by the residents.

“Personally I did not believe that the matter should have gone to court from the start,” he said.

Molefhi stated that recently he held a kgotla meeting at the village to discuss the way forward in relation to the matter and it was then concluded that both parties should sit at the table and discuss the issue with open minds to satisfy both parties.       

“I can assure the residents that we will discuss this issue thoroughly till we reach an amicable solution,” he said.
Molefhi revealed that another new site west of the village has already been identified where the proposed facility is expected to be constructed. “But I have not yet gone to the proposed site.”

“I am not quite sure how long our discussion will take but I am optimistic that ┬áthey will not take such a long time,” he said.

He stated that once an agreement has been concluded, construction will then take place as the funds for construction are available.

He further stated that the facility will meet the international standard as required.

Village representative Dr Sebusang Sebusang said they welcome the latest development by the government in which both parties have to sit down and discuss the matter thoroughly.

“As the village representatives we are ready to discuss as we want closure to this matter because it has just taken too long.”

When asked about the new site that has already been identified he replied he wouldn’t say he was aware of the new site.

“But this will be part of our discussion as people are allowed to come up with suggestions.” ┬á┬á

Meanwhile the village headman Opole Bapadile said he was happy that the new minister has come with a “better approach” which shows that both parties will very soon reach a solution.

He said the matter has been strenuous and time consuming but hopeful that there will be closure.
The standoff can be traced as far as 2012 when the government announced that it had identified a piece of land in Pilikwe where the facility was to be constructed.

This did not sit well with the residents of Pilikwe who ultimately opted to approach the courts. 
Their main contention is that the environmental impact assessment was not conducted properly, and government did not consult with them despite fears that the project could result in radioactive poisoning of the village.

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