Leaking pipeline leaves villagers in desperate need of water
Residents of Mopipi village in the Boteti West have been battling with acute shortage of water in the last six months.
Nestled on the periphery of Makgadikgadi Pans, just 76 km from the diamond mining town of Orapa, Mopipi is home to 4 115 inhabitants according to the 2022 population census figures.
The water crisis in the village is as ancient as the pans themselves. The situation has however deteriorated in the last couple of years.
Following the drying-up of the village’s reliable borehole a couple of years ago, residents are now surviving on water bowsers from Water Utilities.
Area Councilor, Ofentse Gabalathane confirmed the water crisis to The Voice in an interview on Wednesday. Gabalathane said even though part of the village receives a little trickle of water every now and then, most villagers and institutions in Mopipi rely on water bowsers.
“The two primary schools, a junior school, police and the clinic all have jojo tanks that need to be filled regularly,” he said.
Gabalathane further said there’s no telling when the water situation in the village will normalise.
“Dates that were set to rectify the situation have long passed, and from the follow-ups I’ve made at WUC are not encouraging,” he said.
According to the councillor, the biggest challenge in the village is that most of the boreholes produces hard water, which is very salty.
“The current borehole is about 93km from the village, and the problem is the pipe line is seriously leaking, and continually breaks compromising water delivery to the village,” he said.
A concerned resident, Michael Molathiwa told The Voice that he believes there’s no political will to fix the water situation in Mopipi. He said in his political campaign in 2019, their Member of Parliament who’s now the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane promised to bring a water treatment plant to the village by 2020.
“It was his rallying point, but nothing has happened in three years. Instead they’ve used old rusty pipes to connect water from Jujwa borehole. The pipes are leaking and dumping millions of litres of water into the ground,” revealed Molathiwa.
“Are you telling me there was no budget for this project?” he asked rhetorically.
Molathiwa further said despite the water crisis in the village, the MP has never set foot in Mopipi to update them on the matter.
“Nothing is being said about this matter, even in the National Development Plan (NDP), the Mopipi water crisis is not getting the attention it deserves,” charged Molathiwa.
He said the situation has widened the gap between the haves and the have nots, as those with the means can fetch water from neighbouring villages.
“For many, they are at the mercy of good Samaritans, and the unreliable WUC bowser,” he said.
The water crisis in the village was at some stage at the centre of the delay in the maintenance of the Mopipi Road.
It was only after the intervention of VP Tsogwane that Debswana through its Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines (OLDM) availed a well field to assist with water.
The project before the VP’s intervention was constrained as the contractor had to fetch water more than a 100km away in Kumaga and Toromoja.
Mopipi and the Boteti area are not included in Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Kefentse Mzwinila’s P4.5 billion set aside for water projects in the 2022/23 financial year.
Projects that benefited from this budget include Lobatse Water Master Plan, Moshupa Sanitation, Kasane/Kazungula Water Networks, Seronga – Gudigwa Village Water Supply, Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation, and Maun Water and Sanitation.
The largest budget however went to the completion of North-South Carrier 2.2, and Tswapong South water projects.