Molepolole floods, but taps dry!

SHARE   |   Monday, 28 November 2016   |   By Staff Writer
Mafenyatlala Mall Mafenyatlala Mall

Residents of Molepolole village, 50km west of the capital city - Gaborone - are living in fear after torrential rains in the wee hours of Monday morning caused flush floods which blocked roads, brought businesses to a standstill and threatened to destroy homes and other properties. By midweek management of several business establishments at Mafenyatlala main mall in the centre of the village, along the A12 highway, were still calculating losses after floods water soaked their merchandise. The A12 highway was closed for the better part of the day due to dangerous flooding, while some schools remained closed with fears of drowning. In different parts of the village residents’ recorded huge losses of household items, which were swept away by storm water flooding their yards and houses. And when he addresses a Kweneng District full Council (KwDC) meeting tomorrow (Monday) morning, chairman Jeffrey Sibisibi will have to dig deep into his vault to convince angry councillors that his administration is addressing the long standing storm water drainage and sewerage problems in the village.

In Borakalalo ward, where a new bus terminal was recently opened, families were evacuated and rescued from neighbouring homesteads by council officials, fire brigade marshals and disaster management committee. Most of the flood water from Mosinki catchment area, which goes through Borakalalo ward where a small tributary passes, dissipated near Mafenyatlala mall causing uncontrollable flooding in the area. The most affected wards where houses were damaged and property destroyed were Boswelakoko, Newtown, and Ntloolengwayo. Mohammed Khan, MP for Molepolole North (which covers Borakalalo), blamed poor planning by KwDC and lack of a proper drainage system as the main cause of flooding. He said a sub-committee responsible for development has always created an impression that a storm water drainage masterplan already exists. "It has since emerged that the plan is part of Molepolole (infrastructure) Extension Plan, which is still awaiting approval by the minister. I understand it is almost two years now since KwDC submitted the plan to the minister. They are still awaiting a response. This is bad. I am going to push for the minister's approval to get the process moving," he said, adding that in some areas the floods are due to bad planning, where Ipelegeng workers have constructed storm water channels on the wrong side of internal roads leaving some parts vulnerable to flooding.

On the business front questions have been raised about how a plan for Mafenyatlala mall was approved by authorities without a storm water drainage system, which led to some shops being flooded. Cash Bazaar Holdings has through its property division subsidiary Nafprop entered into a lease back development model with Bakwena Community Development Trust (BCDT) for Mafenyatlala mall, a development worth over P50 million.  At the end of the 35-year notarial lease signed in 2003 BCDT (Landlord) will have the option to pay the developer the market value price of the property or extend the lease by a further 20 years at P9 million/month rental.  Chairman of BCDT Shima Monageng said they are at a loss about what happened, but the explanation given is that the storm water was coming from a burst dam in Mosinki lands. "The developer is highly experienced and engaged professionals in the construction. We were assured that the designs have accommodated the slope on the plot and that there would be no flooding," he said. The flooding of Mafenyatlala mall has created uncertainty about Phase 2 of the project, raising questions about suitability of the site for construction of a hotel. But Monageng remains undeterred by the floods and is confident the plan will go through once a suitor is identified. He said plans are still underway to find an investment partner to diversify their investment strategy. A service station, Mafenyatlala hotel and a block of houses are some of the projects planned on the southern side of the mall, towards the nearby Gathaone Dam. "Any serious investor will not be deterred if proper rehabilitation is undertaken on the land, regardless of floods or some horticulture residual remaining on the land. We are at an advanced stage of negotiations with an investor to roll out phase 2, hopefully before the end of 2017," said Monageng. 

Storm water drainage system

For many years, residents of Molepolole - the third most populated centre (66,466) in the country after Gaborone and Francistown city - have complained about lack of sewerage and storm water drainage systems. The storm water drainage development project under the Molepolole Infrastructural development plan has been with the minister awaiting approval and funding. Sibisibi is expected to provide an update on the project. Monageng, who is the former chairman of Molepolole/Lentsweletau sub council in KwDC, confirms that the issue of storm water drainage has been a subject of discussion for many years. The only problem has been lack of funding, due to the recession. Himself a real estate professional and a property developer, Monageng said it is unheard of for highly populated village like Molepolole with huge infrastructural development to lack a proper sewerage and storm water drainage system. Alternatively, he suggests, KwDC should be stringent in prioritising projects within the P500 million received annually for the budget funded by central government. "There is only so much councillors can do because they do not control funding. Passing motions does not guarantee delivery of developments. Other stakeholders, like the village leadership should organise themselves and make presentation to the powers that be," he suggested. Khan promised to have engaged the minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele, by the end of the week to expedite the process.

Molepolole Bus Rank
The Monday floods have fuelled a raging storm between KwDC and a contractor engaged for the recently opened Molepolole Bus Terminal built in Borakalalo ward. Sources say, Estate Construction is demanding its P22 million, withheld by KwDC as defects and liability funds, to compensate any faults which may arise after handing over. The liability period expires at the end of November 2016. The construction of the P139.5 million bus terminal started in 2012 and was due for completion in August 2014, but was only completed at the end of 2015. Councilor for Borakalalo ward, Arafat Khan, said heavy flooding in his ward is aggravated by the poor quality construction of the bus terminal, which does not have a storm water drainage system. "We have more problems because the project consultants did a shoddy job at the bus rank. It contributes to the heavy floods," he said. BOA Consultants – a company associated with former Minister of Transport and Communication Tshenolo Mabeo – was engaged as project engineers and was repeatedly blamed by KwDC for causing delays which cost government millions of Pula. A source said KwDC had long approved a sewerage and storm water drainage proposal. The project was deferred because of lack of funds from government due to 2008 recession. A former councilor said at the time it was deferred the project was to cost approximately P800 million but is now estimated at over P1 billion.

Taps run dry
For many months and in some cases years, Molepolole has been reeling under acute water shortage. Different conflicting statements have been made by the ministry responsible for water, before it was shifted to that of lands recently. The then Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila said boreholes at Malwelwe wellfields would supply the village with more than enough water. But that never happened. Later former Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe, leading a delegation of Presidential Inspectorate team, reiterated what was said by his colleague. But the situation on the ground has never improved. It has since emerged that upon discovery of sufficient supply from the Malwelwe wellfields, the North South Carrier II has been diverted at Gamononyane lands towards Thamaga, Moshupa and Kanye. The tank and pump station in Gamononyane has incorporated allowance for Molepolole pumps, but the Molepolole leg was left out of the scope due to limited funds and the fact that the pipeline would supply Thamaga, currently supplied from Molepolole cluster wellfields, thereby availing additional water. Again at the time, production boreholes for Molepolole showed adequacy to meet village demand. The plan was to do Molepolole leg when funds were secured from NDP 11. In any event, the source being Mmamashia treatment works currently does not have the capacity to supply Kanye until refurbishment works for treatment plant are done. Plans are allegedly underway to connect Molepolole to NSC from Gamononyane. The Mmamashia/Kanye pipeline has been designed to cater for Molepolole connection.

Population statistics

   Name                Adm.      Population Census (Cf) 2011-08-22
1 Gaborone           SEA                 231,592
2 Francistown        NEA                98,961
3 Molepolole          KWE               66,466
4 Maun                 NWE              60,263
5 Mogoditshane     KWE              58,079
6 Serowe              CEN               50,820