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A fortune in misery

A fortune in misery
AT YOUR SERVICE: Thomas pictured in Zoroga

Enterprising businessman cashes in on cyclone Dineo devastation

The tropical depression following cyclone Dineo hit residents of Zoroga, Tsokotshaa and Gweta in the Tutume Sub-district the hardest.

For the past three weeks, Nata-Gweta residents have been agonising over a huge wave of water that left total destruction on its path.

Over 121 families including civil servants had to leave their houses and find alternative accommodation or live in tents.

The villages were cut off from the rest of the country as a raging current engulfed the A3 road, which is the only channel to the villages from Nata.

Amidst this calamity, there’s one man who saw an opportunity to make money when everyone folded their arms to ask for God’s mercy.

George Thomas who runs a garage in Francistown turned his towing truck into a pontoon to help those travelling in smaller cars cross the 1.8km and nearly two metre deep stretch of water in Zoroga and Gweta.

Thomas told The Voice in an exclusive interview that since the floods hit the villages on the 26th February he used his other truck station in Nata to help people make it across.

The businessman was making roughly P8000 a day.

“On peak days I helped about 30 to 40 cars. I charged P200 or P250 depending on the size of the car,” said Thomas.

The enterprising Thomas said the business opportunity came after their driver responded to a breakdown to rescue a motorist whose car developed technical faults as he attempted to cross the water.

“The water was just too much for even some of the off-road vehicles,” he said.

The garage operator told The Voice that the damage to the cars could well run into hundred of thousands of pulas.

“There are some stubborn drivers who learnt the hard way when their vehicles broke down in the middle of the water,” he said.

“Some of these drivers ignored our warnings. They were under the impression that we just wanted to make a quick buck but they paid dearly. We charged them for getting us wet pulling their cars from the middle of the water when we could have loaded the car from dry ground,” he said.

The soft-spoken Thomas narrated a story of an old man who got stuck attempting to make it across at 3am.

“He rolled up the windows and prayed to God that his car withstand the water current. We rescued him at 6:30 in the morning,” he said.

Thomas who has been arriving at the Zoroga ‘water station’ at 6am everyday since the disaster struck said the water has subsided after 23 days.

Today I only helped five cars and I expect the numbers to gradually drop as more vehicles are able to cross.

It will take some time for sedans to cross though, so I expect business to go up again on weekends,” he said.