Mass exodus of cattle into Gaborone continues to annoy city dwellers especially motorists, who have raised concern over the increasing number of cattle roaming freely in the city streets, resulting in road accidents as well as straying into residential areas and damaging property.
Due to increasing number of stray cattle in the city, Gaborone City Council (GCC) and Ministry of Transport and Communications have been blasted for turning a blind eye as the problem spirals out of control. Motorists that this publication interviewed say hundreds of cattle can be seen wandering in deplorable condition on city streets while GCC is doing nothing to curb the situation.
According to the frustrated residents the owners of the cattle neglect them and let them roan freely . In an interview, one of the motorists Akanyang Keetile said Gaborone City Council (GCC) should take drastic measures on the rising situation saying it seems like the city council is turning a blind eye on the issue despite serious public outcry. She said the roaming cattle make it difficult for driving more especially at night. “It is a very worrying situation how cattle continue to roam the city streets leading to serious injuries to motorists. The city council must act, “another frustrated motorist said.
Cattle are suspected to be mostly coming from nearby villages such as Ramotswa, Tlokweng, Mochudi and Gabane mostly coming for drinking water in the Gaborone Dam. Another resident Frank Mogotsi observed that the cattle during the night targets the malls or shopping centres and looks for food in the dustbins resulting in the waste disposals scattering all over the place same as how the cattle do should they invade the yard.
“They compete for the use of roads with motorists, they eat trash and scramble for food in the shopping centres. The city council seems to cherish them,” he added.
Efforts to solicit comments from Minister of Transport and Communications Dorcas Makgato and Gaborone Mayor Kagiso Thutlwe hit a snag. Makgato’s phone was unreachable while Thutlwe’s phone rang unanswered.
Member of Parliament for Boteti East Setlhomo Lelatisitswe in recently ended parliament session raised the issue of animals roaming the city streets asking minister Dorcus Makgato to explain who is now paying the road levy between motorists and the farmers who doesn’t take care of their animals.
MP Lelatisitswe expressed concern on the alarming rate at which animals flock the roads calling on the ministry to put in drastic measures to curb the situation which leads to massive road accidents resulting in high deaths as well. Statistics indicate that alone in 2018, 1 012 reported accident cases was recorded in Botswana which involved collision with livestock resulting in 167 losses of lives.
The study conducted in 2017 by Dr Edward Maganu titled ‘’Motor Vehicle Accidents in Botswana, proposed Health Control using a Public Approach’’ singled out animals among the leading causes of road accidents.
Maganu contends in the study that the government, both Central and Local, have to deal with the livestock problem once and for all; one can’t help but feel that there is lack of political will to deal with it as the owners of the animal roaming roads are the voters. “Adequate negative sanctions could reduce the problem. Also instead of spending large amounts of money on so- called animal patrols, which are running vehicles, it might be worthwhile to consider employing watchmen and putting them at gates on major highways,” reads part of study recommendation.
Sassman comes to rescue
Private individual Ben Sassman, and Director of NCSD and BCSA consulting in an endeavor to militate against the rampant deadly has moved on to launch the reflective collars for mass livestock roaming along the freeways of Botswana.
He said the project of launching the reflective collars will kick start in the Tlokweng Road between Oasis Motel and the Tlokweng Border Post on Friday and will also roll out throughout the country. “As a traveller/ businessman driving around in Botswana I discovered there is a major problem with Livestock (Cattle, goats and donkeys) roaming the regional and national road, causing fatal vehicle crashes, leading to over one hundred deaths in previous year, 2018. I, myself have experienced a few close-calls driving in Botswana at night, one of the reasons I made it a rule not to travel the Botswana freeways at night anymore,” charged Sassman.
Sassman contends that the project comes out due to the fact that Botswana is currently experiencing a high volume of road deaths due to vehicles being involved in accidents colliding with livestock on its National and Regional roads country wide.
Managing stray livestock on regional and national roads will be a tough exercise according to Sassmann, but fitting stray livestock with these reflective collars will be an immediate solution which government should enforce further.