Tuesday, May 26, 2020

US embassy snubs Mokaila and BOB over water testing

The United States Embassy in Gaborone declined to honour an invitation by the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR), Kitso Mokaila, and the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBs) to test water that the Embassy previously alleged contained waterborne bacteria.

Responding to questions from journalists at a press conference he addressed at the Ministry’s headquarters in Gaborone, Mokaila said the embassy did not send a delegation for further water testing despite an invitation by his Ministry.

“I’m not going to talk about that because it’s a non issue. What were we supposed to do? I mean after inviting them for further water testing they did not honour that invitation. BOBS and the Ministry of Health are our stakeholders and also act as regulators. They randomly check if water is safe for consumption or not,” he said.

Still at the same press conference, Water Utilities Chief Executive Officer, Godfrey Mudanga, assured members of the public that “when we treat water in our plant, it is as good as other countries. The quality of our water meets the required standards”.

Responding to queries from The Telegraph, the embassy’s Acting Public Affairs Officer, Katherine Dueholm, said they opened private homes to WUC as the official water authority in Botswana to conduct their own water tests.

“On February 19, we received a request from the Botswana Bureau of Standards to once again enter these same homes to take yet another sample for the same type of test.┬á We referred them to WUC and suggested they obtain the results of the WUC’s tests,” she said.

Dueholm said the U.S. Embassy regularly tests water samples taken from official properties and Mission residences. 

“This is a common practice as part of a much broader safety, health and environmental management program in place for U.S. Embassies around the world,” she said.

She revealed that on February 5 and 6, 2013, they provided an independent, Botswana-based company with water samples from six Mission properties around Gaborone; they have used the same independent testing facility regularly in the past.

“The test results, received by the Embassy on February 13, indicated unsafe levels of biological contaminants in five of the six properties.┬á After receiving these results, we immediately informed the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) and provided the WUC with the test results,” she said.

Suggesting that they still stand by their position that portable water in Gaborone is still unsafe for consumption, the US embassy acting spokesperson said the embassy also consulted with local and U.S. medical experts, all of whom advised that, based on the test results, the water was unsafe for human consumption, and that water intended for human consumption in Gaborone should be boiled.

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