Residents finger LHDA over relocation miseries
The communities of Ha Thetsane have fingered the Lesotho Highlands Water Authority (LHDA) for their unending woes as a result of their relocation in move to facilitate implementation of the water project’s first phase.
The immigrants who were displaced from Thaba-Tseka to Thetsane, Lesia and Ha Tsolo following the inauguration of project in the mid-90s, condemned the Water Authority’s inability to maintain their dilapidated homes which were built by the authority.
Some of the complainants were relocated from Lower Thetsane to Lesia due to the building of the Kofi Anan by-pass and lamented the cramped yards and tattering and utterly ramshackle houses they were provided with, thus demanding to be relocated to other bigger sites.
The irate community members say they have been settled to swamps where their houses crack under the moist and whose ceilings cave-in and eventually fall off falling during rainy days. They further protest that they have been moved from pillar to post for over two decades when they were trying to find solutions to their unrelenting woes.
One of the petitioners ‘Malitaba Leferefere said that LHDA moved her to a smaller yard compared to where she was living, while the LHDA officers who were on duty during her evacuation told her that the LHDA owes her 16 m2 of land.
She said they approached the then Ombudsman, Sekara Mafisa when the LHDA snubbed their complaints which also failed to yield fruitfully.
“Even the mediator suggested that the LHDA should give me more land or compensate me for my land since the place here is very small I cannot even plant crops,” She said.
However, the recent officers who visited the complainants in a bid to listen to their wailings said the old granny should forget the bigger land as she was even provided bigger land as compared to her previous tiny land.
As if that was not enough, 92 year-old Maseka Photsisi who lives in a house without ceiling since it fell-off due to water penetrating the roofs, said she has been addressing this problem and up to now nothing has happened. She said at her age she does not have money to withdraw the septic tank and has since asked the LHDA to build her pit latrine outside the house. She said LHDA has not responded to her problem until now.
The Community Coordinator, Malerato Pelea stated that the delay to attend the problems of the society by the LHDA brought more problems.
She told this this publication that when they were evacuated, LHDA denied them a right to choose which place they want to occupy. She said they were told that their case was different from others so they would be treated differently.
According to Pelea, the houses were also not electrified while they were given the explanation that their case was different which is evidenced from how they are treated like trash as compared to other evacuated people.
Pelea continued that their shaming septic tanks built by the LHDA made from domestic water reservoir tanks (Jojo) fill up so fast that they have to be emptied twice or thrice a month which poses great danger when full and also requires them to dig deep in their insolvent pockets to empty the tanks.
“The septic tanks here are very cheap since they are made of Jojo water tanks and when we blubbered about the danger of them they were covered with some steel, the weight of the steel weighs down the tanks and as a result they spill the sewerage all over our yards.
“We asked that the LHDA should build us toilets that can be disposed with septic trucks not septic tanks, we don’t have money to keep disposing the septic tanks twice a month we cannot afford that,” she added.
Pelea explained that the bursting geezers are the reason why the walls are cracked and some are at the point of falling.
“Before we could be relocated to this place it was just valley and fields and now many houses seem to be cracking to the point of falling because those valleys have moved closer to the houses endangering our lives, what if they fall on us,” Pelea said.
The community said they engaged in lengthy squabbles with LHDA until they took an initiative to consult the mediator to intervene in the matter. Pelea said the mediator; suggested that LHDA compensates the people with all the finances they require for better life.
However, Pelea stated that LHDA is not taking the community serious therefore they want to be evacuated to places of their interest where their lives can be in a better standard.
For his part, LHDA Public Relations Officer (PRO), Masilo Phakoe said even though they did not become part of the meeting between the Minister of Water Affairs and the people of Lesia they knew about the meeting.
He added that the office of the LHDA is working tirelessly with the community to find solutions to their problems, and that even now the office is still working together with the affected community to solve their problems.
According to Phakoe, some people were not evacuated but only pushed to another place in the same village under the same Chief.
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the water ministry, Chief Information Officer Leepo Mabusa said the Minster, Nkaku Kabi is yet to visit the Thetsane community again together with LHDA to see how they can be assisted.
He said if the people want to be evacuated again to another place the ministry will have to see if the LHDA has enough funds to evacuate them.
“The people still have a right to say if they are not satisfied with what the LHDA said. The ministry will be there to assist them further with what they need,” he said.