As the rest of the country grapples with COVID-19 sponsored economic crisis, the Selebi Phikwe town – a pre-pandemic 19 crisis ailing economy has not been spared.
The once copper mining town’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic while still trying to recover from the closure of the BCL mine which was the backbone of its economy.
Selebi Phikwe Mayor – Lucas Modimana said last week that many businesses have collapsed and had to lay off employees due to the COVID 19 pandemic. He said this situation has exacerbated the rate of unemployment that the mining town has already been grappling with.
“It is against this backdrop that community resilient projects should be more emphasized going forward. Development vehicles like trusts and cooperatives can get us far reaching results if properly implemented. I am therefore challenging us as a district to look into these opportunities and how best they can be put into use in Selibe Phikwe and the entire SPEDU region. Strong business linkages could be derived from these models,” said a clearly concerned Modimana.
He also said while their identified growth strategy is events tourism, the same sector has been adversely affected by the Corvid 19 pandemic. He said tourism in its nature requires mass movement of people to events and due to the pandemic all mass gathering were suspended. He gave example of the Toyota 1000 km Desert race in which Selebi Phikwe has been the reigning host since 2019. He expressed disappointment that due to the Corvid 19 pandemic the event had to be suspended.
“Parties involved in organizing the event have reached a consensus that the agreement is still valid and that not much will change except for the postponement amid Covid-19 pandemic. An addendum is being prepared to revise partnership conditions associated with timelines. On a positive note Modimana said in light of the challenges posed by the effect of Covid 19 on the local economy, a response strategy has been put in motion for the benefit of the community.
“One such model in our response strategy is Local Economic Development. Local Economic Development (LED) remains one of the major opportunities that can take us to high levels,” he said.
He emphasized that Selebi Phikwe has taken initiative to thrust its aspirations through LED. He said this has seen the conception of a production of Oyster Mushrooms project which he had previously appraised in the town council. Modimana said Selebi Phikwe Town Council is currently maintaining and equipping two structures in Phase 1 and Phase 2 which will be used for the production of mushrooms. He said one room in phase 2 is ready for production and is awaiting purchase of the necessary materials while others are still undergoing maintenance.
“Ten ex-BCL miners have been mobilized to kick start the project. Currently they have registered a company and are in the process of opening a bank account.
He also said another group of the production of Tswana chickens has also been formed. Modimana revealed that the group comprises of all Ward Development Committee members in the Selebi Phikwe West Constituency. He added that council is still soliciting funding from other development partners in town to facilitate the project.
Among other important issues, the mayor expressed concern over the failing infrastructure in town which continues to fail every time there are heavy rains. He said the rains which they experienced early this year led to flooding which affected some homes in town. The most affected areas were Leseding ward(BCL area) Botshabelo, Phokoje lands, Lebala river at Dikgokong and the river running across Pimville. He said family houses in these areas were affected and properties damaged by water.