MASERU- LOCAL Government and Chieftainship minister, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, is at it again. This time around he is implicated in a land pollution scandal.
A waste truck connected to Mr Moramotse was on New Year’s Eve impounded by Maseru City Council (MCC) officials for dumping solid waste at Ha Pena Pena area in Maseru.
Its driver was later arrested by MCC and fined M5, 000.
Solid waste is disposed at the Water and Sewerage Company’s (WASCO) waste disposal dams in Ha Thetsane, but the truck in question is known to dispose waste it collects from households and businesses all over the place as it is not licensed to dump at the WASCO dams.
Although Moramotse denied that the truck did not belong to him but to his son, impeccable sources told this publication the truck was released under an order from the acting Town Clerk (TC) Mr Motseki Khuto who said it belonged to his boss.
The Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship is the parent ministry for the MCC.
The source, who preferred anonymity said “immediately after the tanker could be paid for and released, Khuto called the acting administrator ordering the release of the tanker.
In no time some officer from the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) called the Town Clerk and brought the matter to their attention that such act was tantamount to corruption should the tanker be released without payment.
“The payment was ultimately made, but that was after the tanker had already been released,” said the source.
Besides polluting the environment, the said tanker is not registered with WASCO as is required and therefore is operating illegally.
Contacted by this publication, Mr Moramotse has disowned the tanker saying it belongs to his son.
“That is not my tanker. It belongs to my son, I am not aware that it was confiscated though my son told me it had been confiscated and he paid M5, 000. 00, but he didn’t tell me what he had done wrong,” said Mr Moramotse in a contradictory fashion.
“My son has been awaiting his license to permit him operate by WASCO and he has since told me that they (WASCO) have asked him to submit his papers so that that he can be officially licensed.
In April 2020, shortly after the set in of the novel corona virus, Mr Moramotse was found to have violated the COVID-19 regulations during a tight lockdown by purchasing alcohol when that was prohibited.
WASCO Public Relations Officer Dave Mahlo has distanced his organization from the said tanker saying it doesn’t appear in their system’s registration and therefore it operating illegally.
“We have no such tanker registered with us in our system. All the tankers that are disposing of sewage tendered for the job and were awarded such and they all know that those who succeeded in the tendering are directed to take a break and give chance to those who didn’t make it previously during the tender. This is a job given specifically to Basotho and ours is just to regulate it. We don’t give any licensing at WASCO,” Mr Mahlo said.
For his part, Mr Khuto, whose substantive post is Director of Environment and Health at the MCC, rubbished the allegations leveled against him and said the confiscated tanker had been paid for before it was released though he doesn’t even have an idea whom it belonged to. He also refuted allegations that he had called the administrator to release it.
“These accusations are baseless as I made no such orders, but what I know is that there was a tanker which was confiscated last week Friday and it was only released because it had been paid for,” said Mr Khuto promising to get more information for the publication on the same matter.
DCEO spokesperson ’Matlhokomelo Senoko confirmed the incident and that her office intervened on hearing that there was a plan to release the tanker illegally.
“DCEO was made aware of the incident on Friday and the attempt to release the said tanker without paying its fine and immediately took up the matter with the Town Clerk,” said Ms Senoko.