Lubombo Re­gional Of­fi­cer leaves res­i­dents dis­mayed

Observer on Saturday - - News - By Bodwa Mbingo

The dis­pute over the multi-mil­lion de­vel­op­ment project pi­o­neered by SWADE to draw wa­ter from Si­moyini area at KaPhunga all the way to Mamisa un­der Sitho­bela Inkhundla for agri­cul­tural pur­poses seems far from over.

A fort­night ago, the Ob­server on Satur­day re­ported that an­gry res­i­dents of Si­moyini halted this project and told the con­trac­tor Ste­fanuti Stocks in front of po­lice of­fi­cers to pack their tools and van­ish from the area ar­gu­ing that they were never con­sulted by theSwazi­landA­gri­cul­tur­alDevel­op­ment En­ter­prise (SWADE) when the project was ini­ti­ated last year.

Work has al­ready been halted in the area while of­fi­cials from SWADE with the as­sis­tance of Shis­el­weni Re­gional Ad­min­is­tra­tor (RA) Themba Ma­suku are do­ing all in their power to re­store peace and un­der­stand­ing in the area for the project to re­sume.

Project

The­p­ro­ject,KaMam­bapotable­wa­ter sup­ply scheme, is part of the Lower Usutu Small­holder Ir­ri­ga­tion Project (LUSIP)IIthathas­com­mencedearnestly in the Lubombo re­gion.

Fol­low­ing a visit by the Shis­el­weni RA a fort­night ago where the res­i­dents told him in no un­cer­tain terms that he should stop med­dling in is­sues touch­ing on the Lubombo re­gion, they were this Thurs­day left in dis­may af­ter of­fi­cials from the Lubombo Re­gional Of­fice­base­datSipho­fa­neniAd­min­is­tra­tor de­nied them a chance to voice their con­cerns per­tain­ing to the project to them.

In what they had thought was a meet­ing where they would all have a word with the of­fi­cials from the Lubombo RA,theres­i­dentswere­toldin­nounc­er­tain terms by the of­fi­cials that the meet­ing was not for them.

Led­bySe­niorRe­gion­alOf­fi­cer(SRO) iden­ti­fied as Ma­suku the of­fi­cers in the­com­pa­ny­ofthose­fromtheMin­istry of Agri­cul­ture, SWADE and the Euro­pean Union (EU) cut the meet­ing short telling the res­i­dents that they had come to meet only three fam­i­lies that are di­rectly af­fected by the project.Thatis Gogo Tsikati­whose­home­stead is just next to the project’s reser­voir, Liah Mbo­nane whose home­stead graves were af­fected by the project as well as a Dlamini whose home­stead was af­fected by rock-falls dur­ing the con­struc­tion of an ac­cess road to­wards the source of the wa­ter.

Cut short

Af­ter the meet­ing was cut short the fum­ing res­i­dents then re­sorted to seek an au­di­ence with the Lubombo RA so that their mat­ter reaches its fi­nal­ity.

The fum­ing res­i­dents of Si­moyini feel they are be­ing robbed of their nat­u­ral right to wa­ter from a lit­tle stream that runs in their area with its source also in the area as the wa­ter be­ing drawn from Si­moyini to ben­e­fit an­other com­mu­nity else­where would ren­der them with­out ad­e­quate sup­ply of wa­ter.

They feel that un­der the cur­rent cir­cum­stances they are not guar­an­teed that the wa­ter to be taken to Mamisa will be the sur­plus from the stream whilead­e­quate­wa­ter­would­still­re­main for their con­sump­tion.

They have fur­ther com­plained that the con­trac­tor has de­cided to in­stal big pipes that will draw more than ad­e­quate wa­ter from their only source of liveli­hood for their agri­cul­ture while they have also de­stroyed their fields and graves while in­stalling the pipes to draw the wa­ter.

This re­mote area is made of about 300 home­steads.

The res­i­dents have openly de­manded that be­fore SWADE re­sumes the project that ap­pears to be about 70 per­cent com­plete to the naked eye, they should first con­struct a dam for them within the stream so that wa­ter can be ad­e­quately har­vested be­fore it is then taken to Mamisa.

They­haveal­sode­mand­edthatSWADE should also leave their area with clean potable wa­ter by en­act­ing taps in each home­stead.

Dur­ing a re­cent meet­ing, the res­i­dents openly di­rected ex­ple­tives at the Shis­el­weni RA blam­ing him for com­ing from the Shis­el­weni re­gion to im­pose the project on them with­out the nec­es­sary con­sul­ta­tions as they ac­cused him of sign­ing a doc­u­ment that the project should con­tinue with­out iron­ing out very key is­sues with them.

Even this, Thurs­day they ap­peared ready to make their case heard un­til they were de­nied a chance to make any sub­mis­sions be­fore the govern­ment of­fi­cials present on the day.

DEJECTED: Se­nior Re­porter Bodwa Mbingo con­duct­ing an in­ter­view with some of the dejected res­i­dents.

OFF-LIM­ITS: These res­i­dents were pic­tured leav­ing the meet­ing venue af­ter the govern­ment of­fi­cials cut it short.

EMENENI: More res­i­dents pon­der­ing on the next step.

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