LAST Friday was a joyous day for the residents of Mohalalitoe in Maseru who came to witness the sod-turning of the M69.8 million road network that will be constructed in the suburb.
Mohalalitoe, which is not far from the city centre, was established 42 years ago as a planned settlement. However, a good road network befitting its planned status did not materialise.
The Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs, Habofanoe Lehana, told the residents that Mohalalitoe was one of the few areas that were planned in 1975.
“This area was meant to have tarred roads leading to the community houses, in addition to a traffic circle but this did not happen due to some changes caused by developments that encroached into areas reserved for a proper road network,” Mr Lehana said.
However, the construction of a six-kilometre road network, which the residents have been waiting for will start this year and expected to be completed by next year.
The government has injected M69.8 million into the project and contracted a Chinese company, Unik Construction and Makhetha Development Consultants to ensure the development of the road infrastructure.
Minister Lehana said the decision to start the road construction would not have been possible if it were not for the residents who supported the shifting of developments that had encroached on the areas reserved for the tarred road.
“Your cooperation with the government demonstrated your understanding of how a good road network contributes to sustainable development. The government heard you when you indicated that you needed a good road network to improve accessibility and ensure controlled movement of vehicles,” Mr Lehana said.
He urged the residents to remain with the same spirit of development and cooperate with the contractor to ensure there is no vandalism of property, in addition to ensuring that the project is completed within the set timeframe.
Mr Ntho Khutlisi, who spoke on behalf of the Mohalalitoe residents thanked the government for listening and respecting their request for a good road network.
“We have waited for a long time for this moment and we are happy that at last, the government has listened to us. We will no longer complain about difficulties to drive home especially after heavy rains when some paths become impassable,” Mr Khutlisi said.
Mr Khutlisi explained the history of the settlement, saying it was founded by the late King Moshoeshoe II and Chief Leabua Jonathan in 1975.
“It’s sad that some of the people who wished to witness this glorious moment are no longer with us to celebrate this development. We have been fighting for a long time to have tarred roads without success. I am now an old man, but I am happy that our wish is finally going to come true,” Mr Khutlisi said.
He said two area chiefs who are now late would have been happy to see the transformation they had fought for, for many years.
“Our late chiefs strongly felt that it was an embarrassing thing that an area that is a stone throw away from the city centre was not fully developed just like other areas such as Maseru East and West, and Old and New Europa. Even Ha Thamae, which is after this suburb, now has tarred roads.”
For his part, the Member of Parliament for the Stadium Area, Mokherane Tsatsanyane, said MPs must represent their communities by ensuring that their concerns are heard and acted upon by the government.
“When I first represented the people in the Ninth Parliament, some residents expressed their wish for a tarred road network. As your messenger, I took your request to the government and argued your case as you had instructed me. The government understood that your request was valid and that is why we are here today,” Mr Tsatsanyane said.
He urged the residents to continue working closely with him together with the local councilors to ensure that Mohalalitoe continues to develop.