You may remember we drilled a dry hole in Kibaha back in September. Well at our expense, MSABI sent another team to Kibaha to drill a second borehole – this time in a location of our choosing. We found water, but the team we sent decided to take some short cuts which resulted in another failed borehole!
On the way to Ifakara with Raphael I received some cryptic text messages from our team working in Kibaha. Things seemed to have gone wrong there, so I managed to divert the driver of our car and pay a visit. Kibaha is around 50km outside of Dar on the way to Ifakara. When I arrived I saw that there was indeed a problem! First we introduced Raphael to the team, who were very happy to meet him. I then did my investigative routine. The problem appeared to be a pipe that was stuck down the borehole and could not be retrieved. This was the first I knew about it, so I already knew the guys were trying to cover something up from me. To be succinct I will cut out the Sherlock holmes story and go straight to what had happened. The team had been going well, and had drilled 18m in only 5 days. At 18m they hit a harder clay layer and decided to do a pump test (they should have kept drilling to at least 24m as this is a new area and we want to see what is under the ground). Anyway they were drilling with a smaller rock bit – which is fast to drill with but makes a 4” hole not the standard 6” hole. They decided to do a pump test on the 4” hole instead of following correct procedures and routing out the 4” to a 6” hole. They then did a half arsed attempt at a pump test – apparently lunch was called by the local cook half way through the test – and they all decided that lunch couldn’t wait. So the only pump test result I was provided with was 8 buckets. “8 buckets of what” I asked. "Oh it was 8 buckets of water, so we decided that was enough and we should finish the well". They have all been taught correctly how to undertake a pump test to give L/h output. Further, whilst they sat and ate for an hour and a half all of the drilling fluid and sediment had time to sink to the bottom of the borehole – further cementing the pipe in place. Actually, they should never have managed to get the 4” pipe down the 4” borehole! Anyway, it was no surprise that they could not put any gravel pack down the hole and it was no surprise when they realised that their grand idea would not work and that the pipe would not come back out of the hole. So their short cut back fired on them. Basically they were cheating. Also they were given money to hire 2 local workers – but instead only hired 1 and kept the other money for themselves. When we caught up with them they had dug a 4m deep hole to try and get the pipe out. They assured me they would succeed – I was doubtful – but we let them continue on their way after a stern talking too. (I was yet to fully understand what they had done, so delayed judgement until later).
A day later back in Ifakara I received a text late at night to say they had failed and were returning on the bus the next day. They did not bother to consult me on this matter. I was angry and sent them a message back that they should start another borehole and if they did return they would be paying for their own bus tickets. Well their response was to shut of their phones – now I knew they knew they were in trouble.
The next day when they returned off the bus I had a long discussion with the team manager and told him how disappointed I was with him and his team. I said that I was too angry to make a decision on their future there and then, but said that they should be fired. This was all a very “in your face” type of introduction for poor old Raphael, but I think it will serve him well in the future. Our team workers are generally very good and this was the worst thing they had ever done - it is disappointing to think that they will play up if they are out of the watchful eye of a manager or supervisor (ie working in Kibaha which is a day bus trip from Ifakara).
After a few days cooling off we had a team meeting and the team has apologised, and agree what they did was incorrect and cheating. They have promised to return to Kibaha and drill a new borehole at their expense. They have another job at a school there, so if they get it, the budget from that job will be able to pay their bus tickets! They will each be given an official warning letter and have been told in no uncertain terms that this is their first and last chance. The other 2 MSABI drill teams in operation all condemned their actions. We are trying to instil a work ethic that promotes nothing but high quality workmanship – because doing a good job will provide safe water long future future generations and also lead to continued demand from the community - thus keeping them employed. Cheating and poor work will end their careers as nobody will want their service. This coaxing of mental direction really takes patience and a lot of time - there is a very strong ingrained "live for today" mentality in rural Tanzania.
A 4m+ deep hole dug by the team to try and retrieve the pipe casing. At around this depth I think they were starting to realise that cheating and taking short-cuts does not pay-off. And I'm pretty certain the message was reinforced the next day when it rained and filled in their hole, making it impossible to salvage this borehole.
The team explain their actions to Raphael. In the background is a dry creek bed. They only needed to work an extra day or two to complete a good job! We hope they have learnt their lesson, they will not get a second chance. At least we know their is water to be found here. These guys will return early January to drill and new borehole and do the correct job they were trained to do.