A Francistown young man who has traded prison khakis for car wash overalls brandished a spade at a team of police officers and Botswana Defence Force soldiers who wanted to raze down his makeshift car wash stall.
The rickety stall is the difference between his old life as a repeat offender and his new life as a small businessman.
Daring the demolition team to destroy his stall the self confessed reformed criminal asked the men in uniform if they wanted him to go back to his criminal ways by destroying his means of survival.
He is one of many unemployed Francistown youths whose lives stood to go down with their car wash operation in a demolition campaign by the Francistown City Council.
Francistown Mayor, Buti Billy, however announced this week that the protracted battle between the city council and unregistered car wash operators had come to an end as council had finally found a small piece of land where they would operate from.
Two months ago, the city council waged a merciless onslaught on car washers, demolishing their structures and forcefully evicting them from their places of operation as they were said to be operating illegally.
The raid was beefed up by the police, soldiers and by-law enforcement officers.
Francistowners and opposition councilors were up in arms and unanimously condemned the council, accusing them of hampering efforts by unemployed residents to make a living.
The operation was, however, deemed unsuccessful as almost all car washers were back in business the next day, minus their makeshift shades which had been destroyed during the raid.
The car wash business is a growth sector in Francistown and almost all of the city’s main roads are sporting stalls with vacuum cleaners and washing baskets.
One of the car wash operators, Mothusi Jack, said that they usually asked for permission from yard owners before they could set up a car wash behind their house.
The agreement allows car wash operators the use of water and electricity from the yard owner. At the end of the month, the car wash operators share the electricity and water bills with the yard owner, plus an agreed rental fee.
Jack revealed that if positioned at the right place, the car wash business can be profitable as they wash no less that ten cars a day at a cost of P20 per car .Some have also expanded their business to include sofas and carpets cleanin.
Mayor Buti Billy told The Sunday Standard that according to the agreement, the car wash operators would be taken through a sort of training period during which they would learn business skills.
“It is a fact that the proliferation of the car washes along the city’s main roads was an eye sore,” he said.
Billy also added that the council had opted to group the car wash under one area where they would operate their businesses .An area next to the golf course had already been identified. They would also be provided with ablutions, water and electricity, all of which coming at a minimal fee.
It is not the first time that FCC found itself at loggerheads with small business operators. Last year, the council pounced on the equipment of mobile phone operators at night, confiscating their chairs and tables, which were normally chained onto trees and pillars in malls.
The council also had to deal with a threat of a lawsuit from vegetable vendors until a small piece of land was leased from Tati Company where the vendors now have a vegetable market.
For years now, the council has been grappling with the issue of bush mechanics who run their businesses at home. The council felt that the bush mechanics should apply for land at the designated industrial area.