Another setback in Ha Tsosane dumpsite saga


. . . Residents asked to revise their petition


MASERU – The Senate has requested representatives from the Ha Tšosane community to revise some aspects of their petition presented to the petitions committee this past Tuesday. The community representatives were instructed to secure an endorsement from the Principal Chief, confirming documented evidence of medical records that detail the adverse effects the Ha Tšosane dumpsite has on local residents.

Additionally, they were asked to submit proof of their communications with the Principal Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Local Government, Chieftainship, Home Affairs, and Police. This request from the Senate followed the community’s formal petition to the House on April 9, which was also delivered to the National Assembly.

“We, the community of Ha Tšosane, have endured long-term suppression by the Maseru Municipality Council (MCC), prompting us to seek help from this committee,” said Kelebone Tšilo during his address to the committee. He explained their unsuccessful efforts to resolve the situation.

The petition detailed: “The landfill poses a significant environmental threat and jeopardises the health and well-being of our community. It occupies a quarry used between the early 1960s and late 1970s for mining, instrumental in developing Maseru’s road infrastructure. This excavation was later transformed into a landfill by the municipal council, without community consultation.”

The petition highlighted that this action assumes community safety but fails to protect residents from the environmental dangers posed. “The alarming aspect is the ongoing violations of laws designed to protect citizens from harmful environments,” the petition noted, citing several sections of the Public Health Order 1970 and the Environment Act 2008. The community urged the Senate to consider factors such as environmental degradation, health hazards, foul odours, pest infestations, and property devaluation in their deliberations.

Earlier in the month, community members blocked access to the dumpsite to halt further waste deposal, which prompted multiple interventions by the police Special Operations Unit (SOU), including threats against protestors. Tšilo expressed frustration about the lack of communication from MCC, noting that promises of discussions within 12 to 24 hours had not been fulfilled.

He also said the crisis dates back to 1997, highlighted by a severe fire between 1998 and 2002, creating perilous conditions for the community. In 2005, an assessment deemed the site had only five years of operational capacity left, recommending its closure and suggesting relocation to Tšoeneng, in Rothe on the outskirts of Maseru. In 2023, Limpho Tau, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Environmental Affairs, acknowledged receiving numerous complaints about the dumpsite.

He disclosed ongoing discussions with private companies to manage the site and revealed plans for a M300 million project to level and compact the dumpsite. However, he noted that transforming Tšoeneng into a suitable landfill would require an additional M400 million. On March 20, Ombudsman Advocate Tlotliso Polaki reached out to the MCC via the Ministry of Local Government, urging a resolution to the impasse at the dumpsite.

Despite a proposal in 2018 by a German firm to establish a waste management system at the Ha Tšosane dumpsite, no progress has been made due to bureaucratic hurdles. An exclusive interview with Advocate Polaki by Public Eye confirmed that no response had been received from the PS, despite a seven-day window for reply and subsequent follow-ups by the Ombudsman. The Senate’s feedback on the petition is intended to strengthen the community’s case as they continue to seek a resolution to the longstanding issues surrounding the Ha Tšosane dumpsite.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *