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Lack of security worries councillors

22 Mar 2023

North West District councillors have expressed concern about the lack of security and safety of employees of safari companies operating lodges and tented camps within wildlife areas.

Councillors revealed at the just ended full council session, that employees’ ablution blocks were far from their houses, thus exposing them to attacks by wildlife animals.

They thus adopted a motion requesting the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism to compel safari companies to have ablutions and residences fenced with electric fence.

Councillors called on companies to prioritise employees’ welfare, and not only focus on the safety of their clientele as was currently the case.

They said some companies had board walks for guests and they also provided them escorts to their rooms, while employees had to walk to the staff quarters without escort.

Tabling the motion, Cllr Kebareeditse Ntsogotlho of Khwai/Mababe ward said there were many safari companies operating in his jurisdiction, hence he was duty bound to table the motion. He said lease agreements were silent on issues of accommodation, staff safety and security.

He said Khwai had over 15 safari companies, while Mababe had four, with staff residences built in areas infested with dangerous animals such as lions, leopards, hippos and elephants. He said employees used the communal ablutions situated 40-50 metres away from the staff quarters.

Mr Ntsogotho said some employees revealed that the situation left them with no choice but to relieve themselves in buckets in their rooms at night because it was risky to go out to the ablutions.

He noted that some companies had electric fences, adding however that the fence only stopped elephants, while other animals such as lions and leopards could easily go through to staff houses.

Cllr Ntsogotho, who is also North West District Council chairperson, noted that safety and security for employees in the tourism industry, second revenue earner in the country after diamonds, deserved attention.

He said they deserved decent housing as they were at the forefront of the sector and helping to retain clientele through provision of excellent service.

Specially elected councillor, Mr Nico Folae supported the motion, saying they were all aware of the poor working conditions of safari employees. He concurred that their lives were at risk, adding that even the houses were not in good condition.

Mr Folae said the responsible ministry should ensure companies provided decent housing for employees to enable them to execute their duties happily.

Cllr Luke Motlaleselo of Bojanala said the motion was relevant, citing incidents where some employees sustained injuries after encounters with animals while on their way to the main camp from staff houses.

In one of the cited incidents, a manager was attacked and killed by a hippo at Linyanti concession, while another employee was killed by a pride of lions, which were sleeping at staff quarters.

He said the tenets of the motion were doable, commending some companies that he said were a step ahead in improving security at staff villages.

Councillors adopted another motion calling on the tourism ministry to establish a department responsible for facilitation, monitoring and development of community trusts.

They said issues of maladministration and funds embezzlement were a serious concern, adding that such issues prevented many trusts from executing their mandates as expected. Councillors said they believed that the department would be able to address such issues and ensure the community benefitted from trusts’ assets.

They said the department would also help to ensure that the Community Based Natural Resource Management Act, which was still at the drafting stage, was enforced and also relieve the office of the district commissioner of the burden of facilitating trusts. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Esther Mmolai

Location : Maun

Event : Council meeting

Date : 22 Mar 2023