Friday, October 23, 2020

Phakalane drowning in garbage

Perhaps the only things more
disconcerting than seeing a fly
infested illegal dump site in
Phakalane is seeing more than
one fly infested illegal dump
sites in Phakalane.

And yet, last Thursday afternoon, there
were dozens of buzzing heaps popping up
from an expanse of yellowing grass.

“Look at that one, and that one, Oh,
look at that one,” Phakalane Estates
Managing Director, Lesang Magang, said
as were driven through a blur of mountains
of construction debris not very far from
double storey mansions with manicured
laws and guards in front of electric gates.
Phakalane is the Botswana property of
choice – sophisticated, upmarket suburb
featuring expensive shops, a world-class
hotel and Gaborone’s most illustrious
addresses.

Lately, however, the suburb’s wellheeled
have been talking more about rubbish
dumps and dirty pavements than comparing
their latest acquisitions and shopping
listsÔÇô subjects that usually make
cocktail party conversation pieces.

“I have tried to talk to the city council
but they are turning a deaf ear. They do not
seem to know that I am the goose that lays
them golden eggs. Phakalane Est…” then
ooh! Excuse me!

The ooh! Excuse me! Is because he has
to answer a cell phone call from a resident
who is complaining that each morning she
goes to work, she has to drive past a sidewalk
choking in garden waste just next to
her house.

When the call came in, Magang was
trying to explain that, plot for plot,
Phakalane Estates is paying more service
levy to the city council than any area in
Gaborone.

The city council, however, simply
pockets the service levy, wrinkles its nose
at the huge illegal dump sites and sticks up
its finger at Phakalane residents.

To give me a rough idea of just how
much in service levy the council stands to
make once Phakalane is fully developed,
Magang tries to calculate the net value of
Phakalane’s residential development.

He shakes back his Tag Heur wrist
watch, reaches for his Nokia E 62 cell
phone, clicked on the calculator symbol
and started punching in several digits.

The cellphone screen responded with;
“Results too large to display.” Even the
Sharp desk calculator blacked out. He puts
the figure at somewhere in the region of P1
billion. And therein lies the problem. To
hack a billion pula suburb from acres of
thorn bushes, building contractors need
huge landfills to dump construction waste.

In construction, an average
200-square-meter house dumps
about 8,000 pounds of construction
debris. Contractors increasingly
find themselves with lots of waste
and nowhere to put it.

To residents from neighboring
villages with idle trucks, this is
concrete gold. Hundreds are discovering
that they can make a quick buck
hauling trash from Phakalane construction
sites, if only they can just find a cheap
place to dump it.

Most load their trucks make a dash to
the Phakalane and Gaborone North bushy
area that is still not developed and then
dash back to claim their pay. As a result fly
dumping has become a serious problem as
villagers with vans and small trucks realize
that it pays to dump illegally.

The situation is not helped by the
mushrooming of squatter settlements in
Phakalane. In a recent letter to the
Department of Waste Management &
Pollution Control, Magang complained,
“We have illegal dumping activities happening
on a daily basis in Phakalane. There
are also some squatter camps mushrooming
in the future development phases of
Phakalane that have no proper sanitary
facilities which in turn contribute to the
pollution of the environment.”
Lately, however, these dumps have
been attracting more than just flies and
squatters who sift through the rubble for
anything that can be salvaged.
Minister of Environment, Wildlife and
Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, one of the many
cabinet members who list Phakalane as
their residential addresses recently visited
the illegal dumping site accompanied by
his Permanent Secretary, Dr Lucas Gakale.

Phakalane Estates has also employed
two casual workers to record all fly
dumpers and so far more than 200 names
and car registration numbers have been
recorded in the black book. In some
instances, some trucks were recorded
dumping rubble on the illegal dumping
sites up to eight times in one day. The
police have started chasing after the culprits
and will be given the choice of either
paying a P 50 000 fine, serving a prison
term or clearing the illegal dumping site.
Magang says the dumping site will be
divided among the more than 200 fly
dumpers.

Magang, who has started negotiations
with the Ministry of Enviroment and
English Premier League officials to host
the English team during the 2010 World
Cup in South Africa, is not leaving anything
to chance. He is even proposing that
if the City Council finds it difficult to service
Phakalane “the other alternative would
be to make Phakalane a sub council and be
separate centres.” This would give
Phakalane control of millions of Pula paid
by residents to the city council as service
levy.

In a letter to the city council, Magang
said another possibility would be for the
city council to establish a service centre in
Phakalane. “This just means re-deploying
Gaborone City Council staff to work from
Phakalane. Phakalane would require full
time staff and can initially start with a bylaw
officer.

Said Magang, “Phakalane Estates (Pty)
Ltd’s mission was to create a world class
residential and commercial estate with
services to match. Gaborone City Council
is overstretched with the entire Gaborone,
including surrounding commercial areas
that contribute little but enjoy services and
yet do not pay rates.”

His proposals are backed by recommendations
of the Second Presidential
Commission on Local Government
Structure.

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