General

WUC employee fighting for life in ICU after getting stuck in a sewage drain

By: Sonny O. Serite

An employee of Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) in Ghanzi is lying in a comma at Bokamoso Private Hospital following a terrible incident in which he got stuck in a sewage drain after attempting to rescue another employee who was also stuck down under the sewage pipeline right in front of WUC offices. The 31 year old pipe fitter is said to have followed his supervisor’s instructions to go inside the 4 meter deep main-hole to rescue his colleague who was stuck in the drain following some maintenance work that they were carrying out on the sewage pipeline. According to one of the family members, the terrible incident happened on October 20 and the employees had just finished unblocking the pipeline and one of them opened an outlet that runs a concoction of about six toxic gases inside the pipeline before checking if all employees had come out to the surface.

The employee who is currently admitted in the Intensive Care Unit at Bokamoso private hospital jumped inside and managed to assist his colleague out of the drain but he was unable to get himself out as he collapsed inside due to inhaling the toxic gases. A local councilor is said to have attempted to get inside the drain to rescue the worker but unfortunately he was too fat to fit in the drain main-hole. The pipe fitter was eventually fished out of the drain and flown to Gaborone by medical emergency helicopter. The colleague he was rescuing when he met his near fatal ordeal was also admitted at Bokamoso Hospital but has since been released. His savior has not been fortunate enough as he is still lying in bed at the hospital and cannot walk, talk, eat or even see. It is however suspected he can only hear because every time there is some noise from people who come to check on him, he makes some slight body movements. One of the family members who has been in Gaborone since the employee was transferred to Bokamoso has blamed WUC for what he termed “I don’t care attitude towards our brother”. He said doctors at Bokamoso Hospital have long recommended that the patient be transferred to South Africa as a matter of urgency but WUC management is dragging their feet in finalizing arrangements for the transfer.

“It has been over two weeks now and every time we seek answers from WUC we are taken from pillar to post”, the family member said and asked for anonymity for fear of souring further his relationship with WUC management. He said doctors at Bokamoso have told them that they have long furnished WUC with a quotation from a South African medical institution. The South African hospital is said to have indicated in their quotation that they currently do not have free beds and WUC has been blamed for not finding an alternative hospital in South Africa. He said they have also established that WUC has not come out clean with the doctors on what kind of gases the patient might have inhaled while trapped inside the sewage drain.

“We fear the doctors might be carrying out irrelevant diagnosis if indeed they are not aware of the exact nature of the gases the patient might have come in contact with”, the family member said in despair and anguish. Sunday Standard managed to speak to the employee who was released from hospital and he confirmed the incident and said he has since gone back to report for duty in Ghanzi and was receiving counseling. He indicated that he would have loved to be in Gaborone for a while to keep check on his colleague who risked his own life to save his. Reached for comment on Friday afternoon, WUC Public Relations Manager Matida Mmipi said their policy does not allow her to field media questions through the phone and asked to be sent an email, while cautioning that her email server was unreliable as it has tendencies not to receive emails on time.