‘We’ll never forget who dug the well’

‘We’ll never forget who dug the well’

Senate Sekotlo

LEKOKOANENG – When we drink the water from the well, we shall never forget who dug the well, so says a Chinese proverb.
That quote came from Chinese ambassador to Lesotho, Dr Sun Xiangua.

In line with that ancient Chinese wisdom, the people of Ha-Ralisieeng in Lekokoaneng, about 30km north of Maseru, will never forget who built their new borehole.
That is particularly true for 64-year-old ’Makopano Khojane who says it has always been a struggle for villagers in Ha-Ralisieeng to access clean drinking water. Khojane told thepost that the water crisis worsened 10 years ago after their village well dried up. The well had been the only source of drinking water for nearly 1 000 villagers and when it dried up the government introduced borehole taps known locally as lisotha. However, those communal taps did not last long.  They got broken and were not repaired. But Khojane and her neighbours in Ha-Ralisieeng resorted to buying water from their neighbours. Some would travel for about a kilometre to Litšiling or Ha-Mokhenene while others would go to Linokong where they bought a 20 litre bucket of water for a loti. But last year, the situation also worsened. The stream at the foot of Linokong Plateau which used to provide water for washing and drinking for their livestock also dried up.

When they spoke to their MP and councillors, they were told their problems will end when water is finally pumped from Metolong Dam. “We were promised that this borehole is just a stop-gap measure as the process to pipe water from Metolong is in progress,” Khojane said. Ha-Ralisieeng is just one of 22 villages surrounding Teya-teyaneng that do not have water.
However, the water crisis in Lekokoaneng will soon be over, thanks to a M150 000 borehole donation by a local sandstone mining company, Lesotho Sand Stone Enterprise (Pty) Ltd.
The company is owned by Chinese investors. Speaking at the hand-over ceremony two weeks ago, Chinese ambassador Dr Sun Xiangua said the borehole is a “monument” between Lesotho Sand Stone Enterprise and villagers. “Water is as important as air,” he said.

“At times we take air and water for granted but we know that nobody can survive without water. The friendship (between) China and Lesotho is like water and air; we cannot survive without each other.”  The Thupa-Kubu MP, Afrika Makakane, said foreign companies should give back to communities they are operating within so that the local people can benefit from their presence beyond just providing them with jobs.  “Foreign investment should be a two-way process, they must get money through selling their products to the community while also giving back to the community,” Makakane said. He also urged local companies to avoid hurting the hosts by destroying the environment. Makakane said villagers in Lekokoaneng have always struggled to access clean water for decades. Minister of Mining Lebohang Thotanyana said the borehole will help improve the lives of Basotho.   “This year marks the first year of a new mining policy that was launched recently for the benefit of the community, it is important that the Chinese gave Basotho life as water is life,” Thotanyana said. “A mining licence is given after (a feasibility study and the law requires) that no business will be conducted without first getting the opinions and concerns of villagers,” Thotanyana said.

“We are expecting many improvements in Lekokoaneng as there are about four mines in this district,” he said.  “We believe the borehole will last longer. We are still working on bringing water to this district, there is a project that is going to take place soon”.  “The government is going to build a water factory in Teya-teyaneng where water will be tested and sold,” he said. Water Minister Kimetso Mathaba said due to the effects of El Nino there has been lack of water throughout the country and therefore the “government is thankful to Lesotho Sand Stone Enterprise”.  “We believe the borehole will last longer. We are still working on bringing water to this district, there is a project that is going to take place soon,” Mathaba said.  “Metolong will supply the whole district with water,” he said.

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