The total cut off of water into the Greater Gaborone area by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) last weekend brought with it more harm than good and while the corporation claims the situation is stabilising, water shortage seems to be far from over.
While every resident of the region is affected (save for those with private dams and wells in their homesteads), it is institutions that are affected the most. Hospitals, schools and restaurants and other businesses in the greater Gaborone area were forced to improvise with some having to close shop completely as reality struck in that without water their businesses were doomed.
The nation last week listened in disbelief when the Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone announced that low or unavailability of water has forced the hospital (PMH) to prioritise patients requiring operations, thus giving priority to emergency patients as well as urgent cases.
The hospital indicated that in addition to the existing 200 000 litres reserve water tank, the hospital has put measures in place to minimise water outage. “The hospital is connecting some 10 000 litre Jojo tanks to the high use areas like the kitchen and laundry to augment the existing capacities,” the release stated. The release states that so far areas that have experienced low pressure to no water at all include gynae theatre, paediatric wards, spinals, medical wards, laundry as well as dental department.
However it would seem the situation is the same in all facilities in the greater Gaborone as it is reported that the Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital Management in Lobatse was thrown in a panic mode as their facility was also as much hard hit.
According to a source at the hospital, who preferred to remain anonymous, due to the obvious fragile condition that patients housed at the facility are in, the shortage of water is a tricky issue to explain to them. According to the source it is now common to see patients relieving themselves just anywhere in the hospital because they cannot understand why they cannot use ablutions due to shortage of water. “The hospital can be in a very distasteful state at times,” said the source.
As it is, a memo has been circulated in the hospital, notifying hospital personnel that water will only be available at certain times in the morning and afternoons. Just like at Marina the hospital is forced to source water from outside when there is total outage.
Our visits to various malls around Gaborone have shown that a number of outlets in the food and catering business were severely affected by the water shortage. While some had employed some means of keeping their businesses going until the situation got better, some business gave in and closed shopped.
The American Franchise Fast food outlet Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) had all their restaurants in Gaborone closed. Customers were met with placards at the door conveying apologies of the closure, citing water shortage as the cause. Although KFC management could not be reached at the time of publication an employee at the franchise headquarters in Gaborone cited that their hands were tied this side of the boarder as the Franchise owners had qualms with stores using water from reservoir tanks for safety reasons and the implications on the KFC brand.
Meanwhile the informal sector in the catering business has also been hit as hard. For 35 year old Neo Modiri, who sells food by the roadside near Commerce park life has been unbearably hard since the severe water shortage. According to Modiri she is at times forced to buy water in order to prepare the food she sells. “Sometimes I am even forced to use bottled water to cook,” she said adding that this has severely affected the amount of profit she makes.
By Thursday a statement from the corporation indicated that the Greater Gaborone area’s average demand surpasses supply by 32.9 million litres a day. That even with rationing, the demand surpasses supply by 17.9 million litres a day.” Due to this, the area will continue to experience low pressure to no water supply even outside the rationing schedule,” the statement read.-
According to the corporation as at the 10th of September the greater Gaborone area water peak demand was 145 Million Litres (ML) a day while the average demand sat at 125 Million Litres (ML) a day. The rationed demand was on the other hand 110 Million Litres (ML) a day
Despite some people in the area still indicating that the WUC has not yet restored water to their areas since the cut off over weekend, WUC indicates that supply to most areas has been restored but full recovery will take up to two weeks.
According to the WUC High lying areas have recovered In Tlokweng while low lying areas are yet to recover. The village of Mogoditshane was said to be saturated by Thursday, however, with low pressures realised at high grounds.
The corporation could not divulge much on places like Mmopane, Metsimotlhabe, Kumakwane, Mochudi and Bokaa except to either mention that most parts of the villages have water or that most areas have recovered. The WUC however indicated that there was a major setback to recovery water supply to Gabane as there was a major pipe burst in Nkoyaphiri
With regard to Lobatse the corporation indicated that most areas are yet to recover. Lobatse is home to most big institutions like the Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital, Athlone Hospital and the Botswana Meat Corporation headquarters.