In an interesting turn of events, relocated Lake Ngami fishermen who were told to fish at other areas following the fishing ban at the lake are facing another eviction from those areas as residents complain of swelling sanitation problems.
The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, issued a fishing ban at Lake Ngami for a year following environmental pollution concerns and the fishermen were told to fish at other areas such as the Okavango Delta, Thamalakane and Kunyere rivers.
The fishermen now find themselves in a desperate situation as they are not welcome in the new localities. Residents complain that the fishermen camp on river shores without having consulted community leaders and that they make the rivers very unsightly. Residents have also expressed fear that if the situation continued unabated, the sanitation situation may resemble that found at Lake Ngami.
The Botswana Gazette spoke to one resident, Semumu Samaxa, who resides at Xhobe Settlement in the outskirts of Maun who said the fishermen were a concern and noted that the river is drying and the fishermen worsen the situation as they splash water from the river through the high boat traffic. “These fishermen also scare away hippopotamus from the river forcing them into our farms where they destroy crops and pose danger to people,” he said
He also said they as a community, have agreed that it was better for the fishermen to seek permission to camp in their homes rather than in the vicinity of the lake. This, Samaxa says, will reduce sanitation problems as the fishermen will use ablution facilities in their homes.
Samaxa said they registered complaints with the area councilor, Vepaune Moreti, who arranged a meeting with the Department of Fisheries, the meeting which was held at Xhobe Village and it was agreed that fishermen who camped at the lake without first consulting residents will be evicted. It was also agreed at the meeting that the Department of Fisheries will set up a task team that will do routine checks and evict those who camped illegally and those who did not have fishing licenses.
In an interview, the area councilor told The Botswana Gazette that indeed the task force was set and it discovered that some fishermen were fishing without requisite licenses and that the culprits were evicted.
The situation was getting out of control and at first the situation was better and now residents are complaining again as they want these fishermen to be totally evicted as they do not obey rules and regulations that were set by residents and the Fisheries department.
A wildlife officer, Yolanda Lekgebe from the Fisheries department told this publication that indeed they had received complaints from residents who are crying foul of Lake Ngami fishermen.
“We have heard the complaints and we have realized that the whole region is complaining about sanitation even those who are at the delta, said Lekgebe who also stressed that they have carried an exercise to evict fishermen who cause nuisance to the community and the problem that they experience is that once they have been evicted, they move to one area and it is difficult to control the situation.
“If we evict them from Shorobe they will go and camp at Nxaraga that’s why the situation remains the same because this is done by the same people,” she said
However, Samaxa was not amused of Fisheries department’s response as he blamed the Ministry of Wildlife to have failed to deal with sanitation issue in the whole country. “These officials have failed the situation and we want total eviction of these people from our area because they are causing a lot of trouble to us and our lives are negatively affected,” Samaxa said