It has been a dream, a decade in the making, and like most dreams of such a nature, heartbreaks, false promises and pitfalls have taken their turns in making sure the dream does not come to reality.
At other times, it was a question of outright misplaced priorities that saw the dream taking long to materialise. But where there is perseverance, where there is a will, there is bound to be a way. So it was thus, that on the evening of a Monday, a fortnight ago, after years of planning, hoping and several let-downs, the dream finally looked like coming to fruition, for the borehole rig finally drove into Mazara village.
Some might remember last year when we exposed one Garikai Mwaruta, a bogus borehole “agent” who disappeared into thin air in Harare, after having been paid money for borehole drilling. Up to now he is on the run – nowhere to be found. But when you have a dream, such setbacks are just but minor setbacks. So when Baba Drilling was recommended, it was all apprehension, especially given the ordeal from last year. Once bitten, twice shy, so they say. But I was assured that it was coming with the highest recommendations.
Armed with last year’s experience and exposure, due diligence was top of my to-do list – I didn’t want a repeat of the conning that I had been through. My initial fears were settled when I went for a physical inspection of the premises used by the “recommended” drilling company. A borehole rig, replete with its “dirt”, showing that it had just returned from a job somewhere, greeted me.
Unlike in the previous encounter last year where I was ushered into an obscure office, this time I was warmly received by a receptionist who introduced herself as Tinashe. After explaining to her my mission, that I wanted a borehole and that I wanted it drilled by a company that would give me its word – and stick to it, she ushered me into the office of Mrs Judith Nyachiya, one of the company’s local directors.
At times stereotyping is a bad phenomenon. Mrs Nyachiya, in her presentation, explained to me the nitty-gritties of borehole drilling in particular – and exploration in general, a presentation that left me in awe. The impressions that I had formed of her – and her company – were quickly erased. Here was a woman who knows her technical stuff to the dot. I was impressed. But I took my time to explain to her my fears, that I had been conned the previous time out and I wouldn’t want a repeat session. She gave me her assurances. That was a Thursday.
The following Monday evening, as the sun kissed the mountains over Mhangura, casting Guruve into veil of darkness, the drilling team drove into Mazara village. Just that, the team’s arrival, was an achievement. If they were to wave goodbye that evening, even without drilling the hole, the contention that, after all those years of planning, sleepless nights and being conned, a borehole rig had finally arrived in the village was enough consolation.
Come the morrow, it was down to business. Granted, it was my first contact with a borehole rig, its team and all the works. My expectation was that since the lorry is heavily mechanised, it comes with two, or at the most three, people to man it. How wrong was I! This one came with eight, yes eight men. And an Indian, too.
Interactions during the course of the drilling – drilling which took almost the whole day – revealed that Baba Drilling is a joint venture between Indians and Zimbabweans, of which the Indian who accompanied the rig to my village represents the Indian interest in the company. He takes notes of wherever they drill – the depths, distances travelled, number of holes drilled, etc.
In fact, I was to learn that Baba Drilling was born in India about 30 years ago and then spread its wings into Africa, opening operations in a number of countries, chief among them being Zambia, where it holds a considerable market share. I am told it is the third biggest borehole drilling and exploration company in Lusaka.
In August last year, the company moved to Harare. And in the 10 months or so that they have been in business in this country, the company has done over 500 holes. “We are fairly a young company in this country,” enthused Mrs Nyachiya, “but the ground we have covered belies our youth. But if you look at where we are coming from, where we draw our inspiration from, we are quite experienced. “Our parent company has been in the business for decades and it is from there that we draw our experience, expertise and inspiration. In fact, we are guided by the business philosophies of our parent company, we have a reputation to protect.”
Having paid for a “wet-hole policy”, where a client is given the option to have up to three holes drilled in search of water, our first attempt drew a dry hole. Even the head of the drilling team, Peter, advised that the water yield in the hole was not viable for a hole, especially one meant for irrigation. The second attempt hit the waters at around 35 metres and the ululation in the village was indescribable. It was as if a lottery jackpot had been won. For the purposes we intended, the hole was taken a further 50 metres down and the water was literally oozing out.
Again, as the sun set its lips on those mountains in the yonder, Baba Drilling’s team – and its rig – waved goodbye to Mazara village.
For a dream that was a decade in the making, it was, indeed, a dream come true.
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