Gaborone — Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Mr Mmetla Masire says the mining sector is showing some positivity and begining to get back to the new normal.
He said diamond beneficiation was back in action as they had exported some polished diamonds last week.
In a press briefing on May 17, Mr Masire said that alone was a positive sign that the mining sector was starting to get back into the new normal, noting that facilitating organisations such as, Diamond Trading Company Botswana, Diamond Hub and De Beers were back in operation.
Mr Masire said the mines were also bringing back their staff into operation with a lot of mines revamping, saying the sector had been operating as an essential service, but only Debswana had closed because they wanted to prepare themselves well.
He said about 70 per cent staff were now back at the mines, adding that they had allowed prospecting to increase to 75 percent, while quarries and small mines had increased to 100 per cent.
"So the total workforce has gone up from 9 000 to 13 200, so all in all the mining sector will be operating reasonably well," he said
Mr Masire however said the big challenge with the mining sector was consumption of electricity, given that when they ramp up, it had impact on other services.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Mr Bareng Malatsi said government was desirous to open up the economy, so that people could get on with their lives.
He said the resumption of works was based on the current trends of disease control measures, adding that should the situation deteriorate, the country may revert to lockdown.
Mr Malatsi said it was therefore critical that the nation play its part to limit the spread of COVID-19, adding that any suspected case should be promptly reported to relevant authorities.
On other issues, Mr Malatsi said construction projects had started in different stages.
As such, he called on all contractors to observe COVID-19 protocols, which included amongst others registration at sites, screening of employees, social distancing and temperature check.
Mr Malatsi said also contractors should ensure that their equipment and tools were sanitised daily especially shared tools, like wheelbarrow, pick axe, mallet, chisel, fish line, dicing machine, hemp, tile cutter and scraper.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Ms Bonolo Khumotaka said on a monthly basis, Botswana needed 10.5 million cubic meters of water, but they could only afford nine million cubic meters.
She further said Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) used to collect P155 million on a monthly basis on water bills, but since the start of extreme social distancing period, they had only managed to collect about P50 million.
Ms Khumotaka therefore encouraged Batswana to pay water bills at all WUC revenues offices and customer centres.
Source : BOPA