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Safety concerns mount as elephants move closer to villages

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The safety of school children has become a serious concern at the North West District Council as the flooding Okavango Delta starts pushing elephant herds closer to villages in the Maun area.

A full council sitting was last week told that two deaths have been reported after two men were killed by the elephants in a space of two weeks outside the buffalo fence. “Just this past Sunday we were laying a man to rest in Sedie ward who was killed by an elephant in Boro,” Boro-Senonnori ward Councillor, Kenson Kgaga, told the full council meeting in Maun.

Kgaga expressed fear that children in his ward who have to travel long distances through a wildlife infested forest to get to school were vulnerable and that the matter needed urgent attention.

“This is a serious concern. I worry a lot about these children. They walk in the midst of roaming wild elephants and it is not safe. The construction of the school in Boro has to be treated as a matter of urgency. There should not be any difference between the way we treat COVID-19 and building a school in Boro,” Kgaga stated.

Kgaga said he was disappointed at government’s decision to divert to Covid-19, funds that were set aside to construct the school.

Just before the beginning of the current financial year, a total of P2 350 000.00 was set aside for the construction of a satellite primary school in Boro.

The funds were to be used under the Constituency Development Fund for Maun West and were to be used for construction of two classroom blocks for standard one and two pupils.

The opening of the school, was hoped to relieve younger children of Boro who have to endure a daily fifteen kilometre trip to and from school in the dangerous bush and mostly hot weather.

Children as young as 6 years of age have to walk from Boro to Matlapana primary school in Maun which is a catchment school for other major wards in and outside Maun, including Sexaxa and Matlapana.

However just before the commencement of 2020/2021 financial year, tragedy struck with the outbreak of COVID-19 which forced government to abruptly stop most of its projects and adjusted its budget to fight the spread of the deadly virus.

Constituency funds were among those that were affected by the readjustment.

However this week Kgaga lambasted the government for delaying the school construction, which was expected to be completed in time for the 2021 school curriculum year.

“It is the BDP (ruling Botswana Democratic Party) that put policies in place, that no child has to walk over five kilometers to school and it is the same government that is dragging its feet to correct the bad situation in Boro where children walk three times that distance to reach the school. These children’s lives are equally important and they matter,” added Kgaga in the sidelines of the full council meeting.

In an interview last week, Boro Air owner, Kealeboga Eshima who does scenic flights over the delta confirmed that indeed elephants have moved closer to Maun and are plenty in the Boro area.

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