The government’s sneaky way of trying to force a radioactive waste storage facility down the throats of the residents of Pilikwe must not go unchallenged because it is clearly provocative.
Around 2009, the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology sent some of its officials to the village where they told our elders that they wanted to bring ‘development’ to the village in the name of a radioactive storage facility. Fully knowing that the elders were not acquainted with technical words and needless to say not aware of the possible dangers that could be brought about by the facility, the government made enticing promises including the promise that the Radisele-Pilikwe road, which the government has refused to tar for years would be tarred. The deceived elders gladly accepted and some of the youthful and better educated people got wind of the evil plot that the government was trying to hatch in the village. We quickly alerted our elders that the facility was not going to bring about any development and also made them aware of the dangers that it could possibly bring our way. Kgotla meetings were called and this writer has attended at least two of them. In the first meeting that I attended, it was clear that many of our elders were not aware of the implications of having this facility within the vicinity of their village.
Some of us told the government that we were not comfortable with the idea of having the facility in our village because of among other things poor consultation. We also highlighted that we were not happy with the fact that the building of the project would hamper the growth of our village to the south-west, the only direction it could freely grow. Another worrying factor was the proximity of the proposed project to the village, given its nature. Soon after the Kgotla meeting, Minister Johnny Swartz met some of the residents in a closed meeting where a group of concerned youth told him that they were not happy with the lack of consultation in the matter. I am told that the minister promised to consult the people of Pilikwe more on the matter, which he clearly didn’t do.
Recently, Ngwato Landboard called a Kgotla meeting in Pilikwe about the possible allocation of a plot for the facility and suspiciously, the residents were informed about it in the eleventh hour.
A good majority of the people of Pilikwe, elders included, told the landboard chairman at the well-attended meeting that he could not even propose to give the ministry a plot while there was still so much controversy surrounding the issue. In defence, he claimed that he had not been aware of the stance of the people of Pilikwe adding that he would consult more with the ministry.
One can safely say that the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology and its officials are very dishonest and I want to inform them that if they thought that they were going to have an easy way with the people of Pilikwe they were wrong.
For years Pilikwe has been yearning for developments only for government to ignore them. Those who were alive during the times of the great leader of the Bangwato of Pilikwe, Kgosi Tshekedi Khama would tell you how much the village was developed during his times. Pilikwe was an oasis where many in the Tswapong area and afar came for education and more but not anymore.
Ever since the death of our leader, it seemed that some people have emerged at government enclave who want to see the demise Pilikwe. While we were just okay with government’s negligence of our village, we are not going to take the proposed building of the facility lying down. What have we done to deserve this? Why does the government want to annihilate our people? Some of us are more than ready to resist and fight this to the death.