The past two months or so have been not easy ones for both dwellers of Maun and tourists visiting this village-cum-town. They have all been subjected to drinking dark brown water by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC).
Although previously the worry in Maun has been shortage of water, the main concern now is its colour and possible side-effects in the long run. Both the government and WUC claims that the water is safe for drinking. Yes, the government through its cash-stripped corporation has come out to say dark-brown water is the right course for Maun people and visiting tourists. Maun has close to 60 000 people and a thousand others visiting while others pass through to the beautiful Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve. For the past two months or so all these people have been subjected to drinking dark-brown water. The sad part though, is that from the look of things and based on the response by the government on the matter, it seems it will be business as usual. The situation has been left to fate atleast in our judgment. No one cares to explain to the business community here what is really going on. To date no media statement has been issued regarding this problem. The gesture maybe it’s a suggestion or way of communication by WUC to the Maun community to say they do not see this as a problem. To WUC things are normal given the lack of urgency on its side regarding the matter.
Recently Member of Parliament for Maun West Kgosi Tawana Moremi II asked a question in parliament in a bid to get an explanation on why the water is brown and whether the situation will normalise any time soon. The answear, we are sorry to say was as good as nothing. In his short and rather useless explanation, minister responsible for water, Kitso Mokaila did not come out clearly to say the situation will take a long time before its rectified. Unfortunately that’s what Maun residents and the business community should brace for. The situation, it seems, will take longer than anticipated. For those who missed his explanation Mokaila told parliament that his ministry is still “trying” to find funding for a project that will probably be an answear to the situation. One gets to wonder where the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) money is. Why did the ministry find it not worthy to include such project in its ESP projects?
Part of Mokaila’s response to Kgosi Tawana reads, “Over and above that Madam Speaker, we have a plan to do an upgrade of a 15 kilometre pipeline that would also get water from the Kunere well fields and the Shashe well fields to try and help the situation, so that we can benefit from using the Kunyere well fields and the Shashe well fields when the river is not flowing, as we know that we get water from the river and from those well fields.”
This does not give hope that the brown water will be gone in any time soon. Given our government’s project implementation history, it will surely take a while before the tourists who visit Maun can have safe water to drink. For Maun hotels who uses white bedding they better find alternative ways of washing them lest they are accused of “not caring” enough for their customers.
Another street explanation that we have since heard on the matter is that the dark-brown water is due to aging reticulation system. Does that mean that the government has not been away that the system is aging?
Even a revisit of Mokaila’s answear in parliament clearly shows that the government has not yet planned to do anything on the matter. If there is anything let it be told so that the business community in Maun is rest assured of better economic return. No one would want to trade in place that has workers that frequently visits the hospital due to health problems related to water usage.
If one takes a quick challenge and search “Maun” and “Water” at the same time on any search engine, the outcome is shocking to say the least. A quick search we made on Google, one of the world’s leading search engines comes out with nothing but bad news about the water in this so called tourism town.
Even previous news headlines are as negative. “Water shortage delays slaughter at Maun BMC”, “Maun water supply problems persist”, “Maun babies dies from diarrhea linked to contaminated water”.
The truth of the matter is that Maun is or is supposed to be the capital city of Botswana tourism – the second contributor to the country’s GDP after diamonds. With an ailing economy like ours, we cannot afford to lose yet another stream of income making.
The #Bottomline is that the government though the Water Utilities should up its game and find appropriate ways of addressing this water problem in Maun. We need NOT to remind the government and WUC that people who live here have lost their lives to water borne diseases such as diarrhea, among others, as a result of drinking contaminated water which they directly obtain from the Thamalakane River. The business community also stand out to lose potential clients due to this problem.