Nata-Gweta parliamentary hopeful Paulson Majaga has called on government to seriously consider setting up a fire station in the village, following a recent inferno that ravaged businesses and homes in Nata, leaving a trail of destruction.
In an interview with The Patriot on Sunday, Majaga said if there was a fire station in Nata, a lot of property could have been saved in the recent incident that left business owners heart broken and dejected. Majaga said he has been reliably informed that the fire was caused by children who burnt trash near the West Gate Lodge. He explained that a lot of property worth millions was destroyed by the blaze because fire fighters took too long to arrive at the scene. He observed that currently the exact amount of the value of the damaged goods is still unknown as the affected business owners still want to engage professional assessors to determine the damage. “The fire brigades were travelling from Sowa Town to attend to the incident and they took about two hours to arrive. The distance between Sowa Town and Nata is long that is why they arrived late at the scene,” the outspoken Majaga held. He narrated that Nata is being serviced by fire engines from Tutume and Sowa Town but the two places are not prone to fire outbreaks compared to Nata.
Majaga explained that in the just ended eleventh parliament session, he tabled a motion at the national assembly calling for government to set up a well-resourced fire station at Nata. “Even if you can check national assembly archives, you will find out that I have been very vocal about this issue but my motion was turned down due to shortage of funds. I was very vocal and some of my colleagues thought I am insane,” he narrated. According to Majaga, his constituency is liable to outbreaks of fire because most of the houses are thatched by grass and a lot of people earn a living through harvesting grass.
The controversial politician revealed that his constituency is big and wide hence it needs to have all the important services such as a fire station. “I belief that my constituency is deliberately being sabotaged because it is lagging behind in developments. Some of the senior public servants are very incompetent and our electorates suffer because of such individuals,” he charged. Majaga went on to say that even up to now government has failed to address the acute shortage of water in his constituency adding that he has long proposed that a dam should be built at Mosetse so as to provide potable water to all the villages in Nata-Gweta constituency but that proposal is yet to be implemented.
Efforts to get a comment from Sowa Town Council Spokesperson, Caiaphas Gabana were unsuccessful as his mobile phone rang unanswered.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Ookeditse, resident of Mosetse village in the Nata-Gweta constituency has also made a similar plea to Majaga. Both majaga and Ookeditse are Botswana Democratic party (BDP) activists and contested Bulela Ditswe against each other.
He wrote; "(It) was a sad day for Nata village and all of us with linkages to this frontier village. We are happy that no injuries have been reported, and regretful that homes and businesses burnt down; meaning jobs and livelihoods have been affected. Our friends, brothers and sisters are home as we speak- scared as they await their uncertain fate as the businesses they woke up to go eke out a living at have been gutted down by fire.
This latest sad episode calls for more efforts at disaster preparedness and relief services within our communities. It is a shame that Nata has no fire station or fire engine. That a fire engine has to come from either Francistown or Sowa (and with no roads to speak of) doesn’t sit well especially that the Makgadikgadi area is disaster prone. Quite frequently, we see Gweta, Zoroga, Tsokatshaa and nearby settlements flood. And each time the response is both late and inadequate. This can not be right and it should come to an end.
What happened yesterday could easily have been a calamity of the highest degree- the fires consumed businesses around a cluster of 3 gas stations. Given that the nearest fire engine would take at best an hour to respond, a significant portion of the village would be aflame by the time the response arrives. As such, we shudder to imagine what the damage would’ve been had one of those gas stations caught fire.
This ought to be a wake up call to the local authorities and those of us in power. While prevention is often best, responsiveness ought to be of the highest degree in the event of a breakout- and this is yet another calamity that has demonstrated our lack of preparedness".
Police in Nata say the value of properties that were destroyed by a fire at North Gate lodge and its surroundings on Sunday is still unknown.
Station Commander, Superintendent Vincent Pitsiitsile said the owners of the damaged properties are still carrying out assessment to determine the value of their destroyed assets.
"I am not in position to reveal the estimated value of the damaged goods as investigations are ongoing," he said.
He noted that fortunately no one was injured during the incident.Pitsiitsile said the inferno destroyed 12 rooms, manager's office,conference room,kitchen and reception at North Gate Lodge while at Shell Filling station,a waiting room,a bar and manager's house were gutted by fire.He revealed that no one looted at the scene. "People were assisting to remove the goods to the store room.I have not received any reports of looting," he explained.
The station Commander further said he does not know whether there was foul play or not but his officers are on the ground to investigate the matter.