The office of the Ombudsman has opened an investigation into the operations of Water Utilities Cooperation-WUC in Bokaa village following a report by the villagers a few months ago. The villagers made the report after being ignored by the government after numerous complaints of being provided with short-term solution of contaminated water delivered in jojo tanks.
This week the Ombudsman confirmed in a written response to this publication that they have opened an investigation into the matter, “we have opened an investigation into the delay of progress on the long term solution to the crises which seeks to address the water reticulation system of the Bokaa Village,” reads the response.
The public protector office further said their “investigations are still ongoing and formal response would be communicated to the complainants once the investigations are complete”.
Residents of Bokaa Village petitioned government and claimed that the water shortage was a serious injustice and represented a failure to deliver on the promise by the embattled authority-Water Utilities Cooperation.
The petition was a follow up to a previous demand that had been sent to the then Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele in 2017 asking him to take relevant measures over the “contaminated” water that was delivered by the ministry in jojo tanks after they complained about the water shortage in the village.
The ministry’s permanent secretary at the time, Thato Raphaka responded to the petition by saying issues of this nature should be brought to them through the village leadership which is either Bogosi, council or the village development committee and not just community members.
In the petition to the ombudsman, Bakaa say as a community they feel that the issue has dragged on for too long, and nothing is being done to address their concerns and this in turn is affecting the community’s well being.
The lead petitioner, Fortune Nyenye said the letter from the permanent secretary does not in any way address their fears.
The petitioners argue that temporary solutions have failed to address the real water crisis “because up to this day they always experience water shortage”. They state that they fail to comprehend why they have a shortage of water when they have Bokaa Dam which is assumed would provide the community with a substantial amount of water.
“We are of the respectful view that the response from the ministry was made in bad faith as it does not address our concerns and our civil, democratic and constitutional rights are being violated as we are denied the right to water which is a basic necessity of life,” wrote the petitioners to the Ombudsman.
They added that their goal is to make him aware that in the past the government policy encouraged residents and citizens nation-wide to connect water to their homes as a way to supply and distribute clean water for consumption. The petitioners say their stand pipes were closed by the water authorities because government wanted to induce people to connect water and stop using pit latrines, which they alleged would contaminate the water in the Bokaa Dam.
In an exclusive interview with The Botswana Gazette, Nyenye revealed that since they handed the petition to one, Gaselabone at the Office of the Ombudsman in November last year, they have not received any response. He said he has been making trips to the office of the ombudsman without the reward of getting an answer.
In October last year, the Acting General Manager of Water Utilities, Kgatleng District, Yvonne Mothupi told The Botswana Gazette that the water shortage situation is only an estimated two months away from being concluded with and to date the situation is still the same.
She said there is currently a project along the A1 named Construction of Bokaa Pipeline Project which is expected to be complete by December last year which will address the water shortage of the small village.