Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) on Friday petitioned President Ian Khama, expressing dissatisfaction with the state of water and electricity utilities in the country.
Presenting the petition to Khama’s spokesperson Gobe Pitso, UDC Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central Dr Phenyo Butale said the UDC was making the presentation on behalf of all Batswana across the political divide, and on behalf of all those who seek nothing but good for the Republic of Botswana.
In their petition the UDC states that the current state of affairs is an outcome of both below-par governance, years of inadequate investment in water and power infrastructure, low capacity and capability of those appointed to manage projects; poor sense of urgency within the country’s top leadership and opaqueness in the system.
“We write as messengers of a weary and tearful nation. Our people are thirsty. Our people face the risk of hygiene-related ailments and our entire health care system may be at risk. Our businesses are beggining to fold. Foreign investors are reluctant to bet on our country. It is becoming more difficult for our economy to create jobs as many of youngsters remain jobless.”
UDC appealed to the government to consider the current circumstances and treat the situation as one in need of urgent and extraordinary measures. The UDC said government must establish an independent regulator for water and power by end of 2015 to bring certainty and transparency to water/power tariffs, level the playing field for potential stakeholders in these sectors and encourage significant investment.
“Government should invest adequate resources in critical water infrastructure which to date has been neglected water pipe network system that connects water abundant areas to water shortage areas across Botswana, water treatment capacity at key centres, water recycling, and sewage infrastructure especially in high density poor areas,” UDC said.
The party added that “Botswana should be spending at least more than 10 times over the next five years than what appears to be intending to spend.”
UDC wants government to instill fair-play in power/ water procurement by government, free conflict of interest and corruption. Allow civil society some pronounced participation in monitoring fair-play in the awarding of major contracts.
“Government should implement a more professional project management regime and system for large multi billion pula infrastructure projects with capacity and capability to consistently implement project within time and budget targets by involving the right threshold of multi disciplinary teams and stake holders,” said Butale.
The Umbrella for Democratic Change says the government should draft clear guidelines and legislative instruments to regulate, guide, encourage and facilitate significant investment and partnership in the power and water sector.
“Government must cultivate as a matter of priority a much improved relationship with South Africa to pave way for electricity supply contracts to South Africa and enhanced arrangement on water,” said UDC.
Lastly the UDC said government should provide the nation with regular updates on the state of water and power and this should be done at Presidential, ministerial and other levels of government.