Yesterday was a sad day for Nata village and all of us with linkages to this frontier village. We are happy that no injuries have been reported, and regretful that homes and businesses burnt down; meaning jobs and livelihoods have been affected. Our friends, brothers and sisters are home as we speak- scared as they await their uncertain fate as the businesses they woke up to go eke out a living at have been gutted down by fire.
This latest sad episode calls for more efforts at disaster preparedness and relief services within our communities. It is a shame that Nata has no fire station or fire engine. That a fire engine has to come from either Francistown or Sowa (and with no roads to speak of) doesn’t sit well especially that the Makgadikgadi area is disaster prone. Quite frequently, we see Gweta, Zoroga, Tsokatshaa and nearby settlements flood. And each time the response is both late and inadequate. This can not be right and it should come to an end.
What happened yesterday could easily have been a calamity of the highest degree- the fires consumed businesses around a cluster of 3 gas stations. Given that the nearest fire engine would take at best an hour to respond, a significant portion of the village would be aflame by the time the response arrives. As such, we shudder to imagine what the damage would’ve been had one of those gas stations caught fire.
This ought to be a wake up call to the local authorities and those of us in power. While prevention is often best, responsiveness ought to be of the highest degree in the event of a breakout- and this is yet another calamity that has demonstrated our lack of preparedness.
It was quite a beauty though to see our people respond with typical great compassion to this disaster. Many people lend a hand at ensuring that less property is damaged. These kind of people give us hope under such dark clouds.
On a lighter, yet equally sad note, and given that Shell bar also burnt down, where will the patrons drink and dance now? Their happiness has been greatly affected by this. Our happiness index rankings will go further down. It is critical that we be more prepared for such- across all towns and villages, and particularly in places known to be prone to disasters. It is our hope that a proper inquest and a response to ensure this never happens again with us caught off guard shall ensue, and that the people will be given confidence that they’re safe.
*Ookeditse is a resident of Mosetse village in the Nata-Gweta constituency