With four huge malls, new Airport, Palapye gets urban facelift

04 Sep 2017

For old time travellers, Palapye was for a very long time only known for its trade mark - informal traders who sold fast food as well as mobile phones airtime at the then dusty bus station. The bus rank which has since been transformed into a modern state of the art facility is located along the Serowe road and not far from the national Highway, A1. Another significant landmark, before the almost 360 degrees transformation of the village was the Morupule A Power Station also located along the same road but a bit further on the outskirts.

Before she could even be declared a town, Palapye, which serves as the capital village of the Tswapong dwellers is however fast turning into an investment hub and talks are already doing rounds that it is a matter of time before it is declared the third city.

While debating the Ministry of Lands and Housing 2015/2016 budget proposal of P1.67 Billion, Thapelo Olopeng – Minister responsible for Youth, Sports and Culture said Palapye is endowed with necessary amenities to contain the pressures of a capital city. Olopeng is one of the few ministers who usually get what they want in the current cabinet. At the time of the debate, he said that Palapye’s location is suitable enough to turn it into a capital city as it is surrounded by lakes and dams which will ensure water was adequate enough to supply the “new city”.

Apart from water, he also reasoned that it will not be too expensive to draw electricity since Morupule power station was within reach. Although surrounded by controversy, the government built a new power station in Palapye – Morupule B, which entails atleast four units each producing 150 Megawatts of power. Plans are advanced to further expand the same power station with two more units, a development that will make the country self sufficient in power supply.

Previously, Olopeng had amongst other things made it public that the government will build a multimillion horse racing track in Palapye.

But even before an official response is given regarding Olopeng’s vote for Palapye to be turned into a city, infrastructural developments suggest that the once dusty village will, in a distant future be declared the country’s third city. Previously, the mining town of Selebi Phikwe, now labeled as “ghostly” was seen as the country’s possible third city but has since witnessed the dream diminishing following the closure a copper mine in that town.

Given the recent public infrastructural developments, Palapye, which has access to the railway line is also developing into a hospitality hub as evidenced by the mushrooming of several hotels and lodges mostly along the ever busy A1 Highway.

The village boasts of a number of multi-million Pula development projects, among them the Morupule B power station, Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Police station. The village will also be home to a new coal mine as well as a multimillion international Airport. The decision to construct the Airport in Palapye was made public this past week with further details showing that its construction is expected to take off between 2019 and 2021. The airport, which will be designed to the latest international standards with a projected runway of 5 200m is to be constructed on a piece of land measuring 2 400ha near Moremi village.

BOOM IN RETAIL

While Palapye has enjoyed its share of failed public projects such as the Glass Manufacturing Project, it continues to attract a lot of investors even on the retail sector. To date, more retail shopping malls are being developed with atleast four of them located along the ever busy A1 road. These include Square Mart, owned by property tycoon Satar Dada, as well as one other mall owned by David Magang of Phakalane Golf Estate.

The coming of the four malls has however believed to have triggered misgivings among Palapye dwellers, with the old business community worried about intense competition whilst residents on the other hand are worried about a possible increase in crime and social ills. The new developments are however expected to create hundreds of jobs for the locals whilst at the same tome giving the once dusty village of Palapye an urban facelift.

4- Number of new malls in Palapye

36,211 – Palapye population

2019 – Airport construction expected to begin

P118mn – Money spent by National Development Bank to support Palapye SMEs