The Construction of the long over-waited state of the art Botswana Railways (BR) Mall in Francistown has been postponed again to the first quarter of 2021. This announcement was made by the Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Railways Leonard Makwinja during a press briefing on the sidelines of the BR SARA (Southern Africa Railway Association) Safety Week Commemoration in Francistown last week. BR first announced its intention to build the multi-million mall in the second city in 2014 and the project was to begin construction in 2017. It was postponed several times as BR said it was waiting for the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and searching for a partner.
“Construction of this mall is long overdue. We were suppose to begin construction this year but due to challenges posed by the Corvid 19 pandemic we decided to defer the project to next year. The mall will be built in phases. We want to assure the people of Francistown that the mall is coming next year and they should not have any doubt,” said Makwinja.
The mall will be built in a 11 hectare plot that belongs to BR properties. It will comprise of among others retail shops, offices, cinema, filling station, piazza and a football court. BR is also planning to build a cargo consolidation hub which will be used for the storage and transportation of cargo and a 369km railway line from Mosetse to Kazungula.
BR commemorated the SARA Safety Week in Francistown in an endeavor to raise awareness and sensitize the people of Francistown on level crossing accidents which continue to take lives across the country. Bokowe level crossing in Francistown is one of the most affected. Makwinja pleaded with the motorists and pedestrians to be always cautions when they cross rail crossings. He said taking precautions can help reduce accidents.
“These accidents are a very serious concern. Although they seem to be decreasing we do not need to be complacent. We need to curb them as much as we can. Accidents destroy properties and take lives. Whenever I receive a call that there is an accident involving a train, the first thing I wonder is if there is loss of life and what am I going to tell the Board and even the Ministry,” he said.
He advised motorists to always obey road signs and cross rail crossings with caution. He raised concern over drivers who play loud music in their vehicles when crossing level crossings. He said this trend obstructs or prevents them from detecting danger from an on-coming train which leads in accidents. He said that the level crossing at Bokowe in Francistown will soon be very busy due to completion of Kazungula Bridge leading to an increase of trucks.
“There is obviously going to be an increment of trucks from foreign countries as the bridge is complete. The trucks will be using this level crossing and we want to plead with motorists to always exercise caution to avoid accidents,” he said.