Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Light steel for sustainability

Botswana is a semi-arid country with few trees to use for the infrastructure development- including the domestic use, where mansions are built. 

During a climate change workshop held in Gaborone two months ago, an official in the Department of Environmental Affairs, Khulekani Mpofu mentioned that there should be mainstreaming of cross cutting issues maintaining natural assets that drive the economy and the society continuously.

“The country should ensure that it has the capacity to respond to adverse climates; and has in general frameworks and practical tools for addressing economic, social and environmental issues. There should be more emphasis put onto projects that will restore degraded land and putting measures in place that will curb deforestation,” said Mpofu.

His words are indirectly supported by an entrepreneur, Tawanda Watura whose business is manufacturing and installation of light steel roof trusses and ceilings battens. He  last Wednesday said in an interview with Sunday Standard that due to a number of issues he has observed since starting business the use of light steel trusses in construction is more sustainable in the country than the use of timber trusses.

“There are few trees in the country for use as roofing material. Therefore a lot has to be imported and job creation is in a way transferred. There are a number of steel industries in Botswana which could employ more Batswana if more could opt to steel use,” said Watura.   

He added that he has observed with concern that people often get loans to build houses. For whatever reasons, they end up using cheap wood as trusses for houses as big as 400 or more meters in size.  From there he said, the owners purchase concrete roofing tiles.

“The tiles absorb a lot of water during rainy seasons and this becomes a threat to the security of the roof of such a building. What will happen if it rains for some hours, or even days to the roofing of such a building? What if suddenly strong winds and storms occur? And these are expensive, imported timbers we are talking about here,” he said.

He explained that steel industry is being used to revamp the economy of Selibe-Phikwe and this could be used by Batswana as an opportune moment for them to try and boost the national economy.

“The light steel trusses have several advantages over timber ones: They are cheaper than timber trusses; they are ready to be supplied anywhere in Botswana; the material can be supplied on site in knock down kits. It has got no sagging or warping and it also has no problem of maintenance and termites,” he said.

Apparently Mpofu had pointed out the fact that, “Sectors need to integration of certain climate related risks in their day to day business to become more resilient. Nationally, there is need to put more resources towards building resilience as this is central to being prepared for future changes .”

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.