- Says they had overstepped on their mandate
- Says the matter should be determined by Environment Affairs department
Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) has withdrawn a report on the temporary mobile Asphalt plant for Gaborone to Boatle road project in which they say is a huge risk for Gaborone dam pollution due to its proximity to the Gaborone dam.
The Corporation Chief Executive officer, Mmetla Masire told this publication that it has come to their realisation that they overstepped on their mandate as the call should have been made by the department of environment affairs- DEA.
“It was an error by our employees. It is the duty of the DEA to make such calls and determinations and we have since withdrawn the letter to leave the matter to its owners,” he said. When asked on whether they have heard anything from DEA pertaining to the matter he said ‘not yet’.
It is understood that the corporations’s position should have been expressed to DEA and not the perpetrators. Sources say WUC is however unhappy that DEA have slept on the matter which should have been promptly responded to due to its sensitivity.
An asphalt plant is a plant used for the manufacture of asphalt, macadam and other forms of coated roadstone, sometimes collectively known as blacktop or asphalt concrete. The construction involves sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a pitch.
Last month on the 29th, WUC employees , Maswabi, Abadile and Senosi accompanied by Madikwe from the department of the department of environmental affairs produced a report in relation to the site visit in which they were calling for the immediate halt of construction at the facility.
In the report, the corporation says: “We regret to inform you that due to the hazardous nature of bitumen and diesel, it will not allow the set up and operation of a temporary mobile plant on the proposed site.”
The reasons provided by the corporation are that, “the site is within Gaborone catchment area and the proposed plant is located 688 meters away from Gaborone dam and makes it subject to pollution in case of bitumen and diesel spillages.”
The report further says; “Moreover, the proposed plant is located 302 meters away from the full supply level of Gaborone dam against the allowable 1 kilometer and therefore makes the dam susceptible to pollution should there be infiltration of hazardous materials to the ground and run off. The area is also 487 meters away from an unknown stream which feeds into the dam.It is also 688 meters away from Metsimotlhabe river which is the last stream that feeds into the major stream of the dam.”
Motlhabane Maphanyane, the owner and resident of a property immediate to the Asphalt project has written a letter expressing anger at the construction as well saying in terms of several Acts and protocols within Botswana, he should have been consulted alongside other stakeholders.
“Your development is likely to have a negative impact on my property and on my quality of life generally,” he says.
“I have had consultations with the physical planning officer for the South East District Council to establish whether you have a Planning permission for your project and they have informed me that you have none,” he charged.
He continued; “I am also aware that you are in receipt of a letter from WUC expressing vehement opposition to the project which is located in the catchment area of Gaborone Dam. In the circumstances you should stop further development of this project until all the planning requirements are met. If construction continues I will have no option but to resort to the courts of law.”
The Boatle road Asphalt is developed by a company called Asphalt Botswana owned by Tshepo Sebina who is one of the contractors in the multimillion road project. He has defied several calls to stop the construction of the Asphalt over concerns of costs among many others. This week the company representative, Pius Mphathiwa said “WUC has since withdrawn their letter” in what he appeared to perceive as absolving them. Mphathiwa later withdrew all his WhatsApp messages written to this publication for mysterious reasons.
Asphalt Botswana company is involved in the provision of road construction and maintenance services; supply and laying of hot mix asphalt; and construction of various types of road surfaces. Efforts to reach DEA for a comment were successful at the time of going to press as the director was said to be out of the country.