FRANCISTOWN – It is almost four years since Botswana Railways (BR) Properties announced its plans to build a mall worth over 300 million in Francistown. The project which seems to have failed to take off was to begin last year 2017. The huge state of the art mall is expected to be the first of its kind in the second city. It will encompass luxurious hotels, parks and other amenities. It is expected to add value to the economy of Francistown in the form of business and employment opportunities.
However, speaking to the Sunday Standard last week Karabo Lewatle who is the Marketing and Business Development Manager at BR Properties, said the project is on-going despite some delays.
“An investment valuing over P300 million is a huge project which requires great understanding of the market trends and a great deal of due diligence needs to be carried out to ensure return on investment,” he said.
He said therefore Botswana Railways is still carrying a feasibility study that informs this investment. Lewatle said the project is on-going and due to its magnitude, some processes take longer than anticipated resulting in sluggish progress as it involves a lot of stakeholders. He however assured this publication that any new developments regarding the project will be shared with the necessary stakeholders as the organization sees fit.
The targeted piece of land where the mall is to be built measures 11 hectares in Francistown for development. The piece of land is owned by Botswana Railways.
Among some of the projects that were earmarked for Francistown by BR was a cargo consolidation hub which will be used for the storage and transportation of cargo.
BR also said in the past that it plans to build an overhaul workshop for its locomotives in Francistown and build a railway line that will run from Mosetse to Kazungula which will be used to transport goods to the North African countries. The project was expected to take five years.
However at the time of going to press, Botswana Railways had still not replied to Sunday Standard questions on these projects.
Francistown which is currently facing economic challenges after the closure of several mines in its surrounding last year, is in dire need for investment. Currently the city is plagued by challenges of unemployment, poverty, crime and poor infrastructure. The city council has since come up with vision 2022, an initiative that seeks to transform the city into a vibrant investment hub by 2022.