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Boatle-Gaborone road project at just over 53%

Joe Brown

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A GRADE SEPARATION JUNCTION: The Boatle Interchange, which will look somewhat like this, has been under construction since June

Motorists using the Boatle-Gaborone road should brace themselves for another seven months of inconvenience after the Ministry of Transport and Communications confirmed completion date for the whole project to be April 5 next year.

This however, will only be so if things go according to plan, with no further delays as was the case at some point during the course of construction last year. The construction project that commenced on March 24 last year entails an upgrade of the existing 23 kilometre stretch between Game City and Boatle from a single carriageway road of two lanes to a dual carriageway road – bitumen standard – of four lanes.

Also included is the Boatle interchange project which will be the second of its kind to be constructed in the country after the one in Francistown, commonly known as spaghetti. The grade separation junction at Boatle is beginning to take shape, with construction beams and scaffolding already showing that traffic going directly between Gaborone and Lobatse will flow uninterrupted at ground level, while vehicles coming out of Ramotswa to Gaborone are set to drive overhead before going off ramp into the A1 road.

Construction on the road has since last year caused frustrations on commuters whose trips between Gaborone and Ramotswa have slowed from taking 30 minutes to 90 minutes, with those proceeding to Otse, Lobatse and Mogobane taking even longer.

The closure of the Boatle intersection in June made matters worse as the diversion roads have resulted in a traffic nightmare. A sizeable number of commuters from both Lobatse and Ramotswa have since resorted to using the morning commuter train traveling between Lobatse and Gaborone in the mornings and in the evenings.

In addition, construction of the grade separated junction has forced a relocation of the main Boatle taxi stop to an open dusty patch across the A1 road, a development that has not gone down well with both taxi operators and passengers.

The aggrieved felt the relocation was done without consultation and that the location to the new mini terminal posed a risk to the lives of passengers, especially under the cover of both morning and evening darkness.

At completion, the road is expected to cut down on congestion, improve safety and even see traffic move faster especially at the Boatle junction where the area had over the years been seen to slow down movement and even cause fatal road accidents.

This was more pronounced during peak hours, and the police in Ramotswa had begun to camp there to aid traffic flow on high-density days. Speaking to The Midweek Sun in an interview about the road recently, Ramotswa Police boss Superintendent Keogile Tau decried the current congestion but said he found comfort in knowing that soon the road will be safer and user-friendly.

According to Thato Moapare, Public Relations Manager in the transport and communications ministry, progress on the road at the end of last month had been at 53 percent. This she said was against a planned 62 percent. Among the issues that caused delays on the road were the late acquisition of burrow pits as well as the late relocation of services at Boatle junction and Kgale.

The project, which is fully funded by government to the tune of P1.069 billion also includes construction of two bridges over Tloane and Metsimaswaane rivers. The project is part of government’s Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) initiative and was awarded in February 2017 to Consolidated Contractors Company of Kuwait, as well as China State Construction and Engineering Corporation.

Supervising consultants are Bothakga Burrow Botswana. As at April this year, the number of people employed on the project stood at 522, of which 489 are Botswana citizens and 33 are expatriates.

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GABS CITY REPAIRED

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Located in the heart of Gaborone, Bontleng Primary School was one of the areas that were devastated by Cyclone Dineo some two years ago.

Among damages from the cyclone the school boundary walls were destroyed and some trees fell onto classrooms destroying the roofing, recalled Area Councilor, Olebogeng Kemelo. Today the school is among several developmental projects carried out by the Gaborone City Council (GCC). Maintenance work is going on, a new classroom block is coming up and roofs of classrooms that were destroyed by the storm winds have been replaced and reinforced with steel pipes.

The school will also receive rehabilitation of water reticulation and drainage along with other primary schools in the city in the financial year 2019/20. This is just one of the many developmental projects by the city council that are currently taking place around the city. Mayor of Gaborone, Kagiso Thutlwe said on Tuesday during the Council Leadership and Management tour of projects that they have realised that often times councilors discuss projects only in Council Chambers and never get an appreciation of the work on the ground.

According to Thutlwe the projects have been funded from the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), Roads Levy and Constituency funding, as well as additional funds from China through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The council received around P60 million from the Roads Levy, P30 million from ESP, and P50 million for the five constituencies within the city, while the donation from China through the ministry was about P15 million. “We are sampling a few projects from each of the funding mechanisms, some projects are funded from ESP, some from Roads Levy and some from Constituency funding,” Thutlwe said, adding, “Generally all projects are going on well.

“We had hiccups at the beginning of some projects like paving of roads that did not go well because of issues of capacity, but we are now satisfied with progress and contractors and there is close monitoring.” Some of the visited sites include the Shashe road in Gaborone South that was done under the Roads Levy for around P5 million, maintenance of primary schools around P600 000, storm water drainage around P600 000, walkway in Mosekangwetsi and Khuduga in Bonnington south around P600 000, ESP project in Khuduga primary school for around P20 million. Other projects include; recreational park development, storm water drainage in Old Naledi, construction of Kgomokasitwa Road, street lights and flood lights, maintenance of SHHA offices, Block 10 underdeveloped plots, Bosele primary school, Block 3 recycling centre and development of clinic in Maruapula.

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WHO POISONED THE CHILDREN?

Yvonne Mooka

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They were staying in Bontleng, Gaborone with their mother, father and aunt. According to their aunt Agnes Selato, their father Onalethata Moreomongwe had on February 27, cooked them rice soup and beef and left some in the pot, which he put in the fridge.

She says that the following day, the father told the children to eat the leftovers alone and that she – the aunt, should eat bread. “The girl wanted to refuse to eat but since she was coming from school and hungry, she ended up eating. I also ate with them,” she says. She however says that around 11pm, she and the children fell sick. “They had diarrhoea and were vomiting. Their body temperatures were high. I also experienced dizziness and started throwing up,” she says.

Selato says that the father decided to go out with his friend around midnight, ignoring that they were not feeling well. All the while, the children’s mother Kamogelo Selato was on a night shift at Engen filling station in Nkoyaphiri. It was when Kamogelo arrived around 7am that the children were taken to Bontleng clinic. The mother says that she went and looked for their father who came and drove them to the clinic.

The aunt however says she was feeling better. “Upon arrival at the clinic, we were quickly taken to Princess Marina Hospital where nurses sent me back home to call their father for questioning.
“When we got to the hospital, the boy had already been moved from Emergency to Intensive Care Unit. The girl was admitted at the Children’s ward and we were told she was feeling better,” says the aunt. As they were still waiting at the hospital around 8pm, they were informed that both children had passed on. She and Moreomongwe have since been interrogated by CID officers. “They took uncooked rice and cooked rice for testing.

They also took the pot that was used. But again after post-mortem that was conducted last Wednesday, the police asked them about a spray used in the house that could have affected the children’s respiratory systems. “I told them that the father had confided in his friend that he had brought spray from his workplace to kill cockroaches in the house. He actually sprayed the house at one point,” she says. Selato brought clothes in a plastic bag belonging to Kamogelo that had a strong smell of a chemical and told The Midweek Sun team that it was the one used by Moreomongwe.

Family furious
The children’s mother says that she suspects foul-play as the children’s father did not bring money he claimed from their insurance. “His behaviour is suspicious. He took their death certificates for insurance claims but did not bring not even 1 Pula. “He went and bought himself a smartphone and created a fake Facebook account to tarnish my name that I killed my children,” she says, talking about circulating Facebook post that a mother has poisoned her children with rice. She says that even though the boyfriend’s family brought four goats and a sheep, the issue of insurance money that never helped at the funeral had angered her. “I buried my children alone, from my own pocket. But again I’m not surprised because I hear he was seen on Sunday at the graveyards with bottles at my children’s tombs,” said the 30 year old.

Kamogelo laments her relationship of seven years, saying her boyfriend had turned her into a punching bag. “He lives with me in my house but he abuses me. The whole furniture is mine and I pay rent, but he is abusive.

‘I’m done with him,” she says, adding that he had alienated her son as he found her already with him. She says that police should arrest him for killing her children. Kamogelo’s mother Matshidiso Selato also made a plea to the police to arrest Moreomongwe pending investigations. She says that they should kick him out of Kamogelo’s house and bring the keys to Molapowabojang. “In 2016, he nearly killed her. He abuses her.

Now that he has killed my grandchildren, he is going to kill my daughter,” she says angrily, adding that police should torture Moreomongwe so that he can tell the truth. Great grandmother Kebabope Mothibi blames the police for not arresting Moreomongwe, stating that he was going to kill Kamogelo. Great grandfather Kehetamang Modibedi says that he does not want Moreomongwe. “What had joined him with my granddaughter is gone and he is behind it. Now, they share nothing. I don’t want to see him,” he says.

Boyfriend speaks
In response, Moreomongwe, 27, blames the children’s aunt for their death. He denies having cooked rice for them and says it was actually Agnes who did. “I only took two spoons. Sejeso seo se ne se lebagane nna. Ga ampatle,” he says, implying that the poison had targeted specifically him. He explains that the sister did not want to leave them in peace as a couple, and that she had overstayed two months they had given her in their rented room.

He adds that he was also put on a drip at Bontleng clinic after the incident. Moreomongwe reveals that his girlfriend’s mother does not like him and had long wanted them to part ways. “She is a big problem in our relationship, but her daughter and I are fine. Even if she listens to them and dumps me, it’s alright, but I will always love her. I leave them with Isaiah 66 and they’ll know because we’re both ZCC members,” he says. Urban Police station commander Superintendent Masego Majaha says they are still waiting for the doctor’s report. She said they had taken the food to the lab for examination.

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