- Residents petition Maele through strong-worded letter
- Maele rejects the petition, says he can only dialogue with Bogosi, Council, VDC
- Health Ministry urges citizens to be vigilant
Residents of Bokaa have petitioned the Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele through a strong-worded letter rejecting his ministry’s stop-gap intervention in the village’s water crisis where they say “contaminated” water is being delivered in Jojo tanks.
In the letter received by the ministry, the residents accuse the ministry and Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) of repeatedly lying and taking them for granted.
“WUC has responded to our cry by supplying us with water in Jojos. We hoped that this means of water supply was only a temporary measure but now we experienced that it is permanent. We residents no longer want to be supplied by Jojos anymore as we experience baby pampers, used condoms, dead animals just to mention a few in these jojos. These Jojos are a health hazard since they are placed in open spaces without security,” the letter reads.
Residents further say the situation has deteriorated in schools and threatens to affect student’s education as they are forced to use the bush for relieving themselves. The shortage is said to have halted almost all the operations in a village which ironically is home to Bokaa dam which is currently about 70% full of water.
The ministry however did not take kindly to the petition by residents, saying it would only dialogue with the village leadership on the issue. “It is our considered view that issues of that nature should be brought through the village leadership, that is, either Bogosi, Council or Village Development Committee,” reads the ministry’s responding letter signed by Permanent Secretary Thato Raphaka.
The response took the residents by surprise, with their representative, Fortune Nyenye saying they are adamant that as citizens, they can raise their grievances with the country’s leadership anytime they please.
“We met as the villagers and agreed to write to the minister, is there anything wrong with that? The Chief is aware of our concern and so is the VDC and Council, in fact many members of the VDC are signatories to that petition,” said Nyenye who added that the petition was motivated by the fact that life is at a standstill in Bokaa due to the dishonesty of WUC and its dismal failure to arrest the crisis.
In part of its response however, the ministry acknowledges the village’s water crisis and ascribes it to constraints in the reticulation system: “As an interim measure to address the situation, WUC has put in place supply arrangement of utilizing bowsing and placing tanks in some strategic locations, although some places in the village do not have water for long periods. Upgrading of the water reticulation system in the village is expected to be complete before August 2018.”
Residents however say the same empty promises were made in 2013 by former minister Kitso Mokaila in a kgotla meeting and say no intervention by the ministry has adequately addressed the problem as they can go for a week without water as the jojo tanks are not always refilled.
When interviewed on health hazards posed this situation, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Shanaaz El Halabi, was quick to warn against “pointing fingers” saying it first must be acknowledged there were water supply challenges across the country.
“If monitored and cleaned regularly Jojos are safe water carriers. We can only advice the villagers and the authorities make sure that the water is clean before consumption. The villagers should take care of these Jojos and make sure that they are safe from contamination. Those who have doubts over the water should boil the water before consumption, she said before advising the citizenry to always be vigilant and careful before drinking to avoid unwanted cases of water-borne disease,” she said.