Residents of Tshwaane and Malelejwe received an early Christmas present last Wednesday as Botswana Ash (BOTASH) mine unveiled a new bridge/culvert, easing access for these settlements located on the outskirts of the soda ash mining town.
Situated between the Mosetse River and the salt pans, the two ungazetted settlements had long faced challenges, particularly during rainy seasons.
With just one access gravel road into the area, residents often found themselves isolated when the Mosetse River overflowed.
Area Councilor, Ntebalang John, highlighted the difficulties faced by residents during such times, emphasizing how the overflowing river would cut them off from the rest of the country. “It became difficult for them to reach Sowa or Nata, where they mostly get their resources, as they had no other means of crossing the river,” John said.
Acknowledging the timely response from Botash, John noted that the bridge has now connected the settlements to the rest of the country. “Now those coming from Orapa can use the Mokubilo/Mmea turn-off and pass through our villages heading to Sowa and Nata,” he explained.
Botash Managing Director, Kangangwani Phatshwane, announced that the culvert, costing P1,623,957.76, marks the first project of its kind undertaken by the mine.
Expressing a commitment to contribute more to the communities surrounding the mining town, Phatshwane mentioned the challenges faced by communities close to mines and emphasized the need for direct impact. “We’ve also realised that the communities closer to mines seem to be the most affected, and this happens across all mines. We decided that we have to directly impact the communities close to us,” Phatshwane said during the official opening of the bridge.
Phatshwane stated that the initiative aligns with the ‘Towards Sustainable Mining’ (TSM) program, originating in Canada. Prior to the bridge construction, the mine consulted with the communities to identify their most pressing need, which overwhelmingly pointed to difficulties during the rainy season.
“While it may seem small to some, this is a significant development for the community. They now have unhindered access to Sowa and the rest of the country,” emphasized Phatshwane.
Looking ahead, Phatshwane expressed the mine’s commitment to larger community projects, including villages like Dukwi and Mosetse, with the intention of fostering unity and positive development in the region.