Francistown mayor, Buti Billy, has announced that the protracted battle between the city council and unregistered car wash operators has come to an end as council has finally found a small piece of land where they will operate.
Two months ago, the city council waged a merciless onslaught on car washers, demolishing their structures and forcibly 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 stood up in protest and unanimously condemned the merciless acts of the council and accused them of hampering the efforts of the unemployed to make a living for themselves.
The contention of the city council was that the proliferation of car washes along the road was detrimental to the city‘s image and that they were operating illegally as they had neither been registered nor allocated land by the city council.
Most of the car wash operators are unemployed youth and they chose the business as a means of making a living.
One of the car wash operators, a self confessed reformed gangster, was very vocal in his condemnation of the city council during the raid. Holding a spade in his hands, he dared the officials to destroy his shade and asked them if they wanted him to go back to his criminal ways, as they were destroying his means of survival.
But the operation was deemed as unsuccessful as almost all of the car washers were back in business the next day, but without their makeshift shades which had been destroyed by the police.
The car wash business is very prevalent in Francistown and almost all of the city’s major roads are littered with car wash stalls. One of the car wash operators, Mothusi Jack, said that they usually ask for permission from a yard owner to open a car wash behind her house.
The agreement permits the car wash operators to use 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, also paying her 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 and some have also expanded their business to include sofas and carpets cleaning.
Mayor Buti Billy told Sunday Standard that according to the agreement, the car wash operators would be afforded workshops during which they would learn business skills.
“It is a fact that the proliferation of the car washes along the city’s main roads is a sore sight,” he said.
Billy also added that the council had opted to group the car washes in one area where they would operate their businesses. An area next to the golf course has already been identified. They will also be provided with water and electricity, which will come at a minimal fee.
The car washers, who felt that, at least, the council had their interest at heart met this news with glee.
Some of them also confessed that they ignored repeated requests from the city council to vacate their places due to influence from councilors.
It is not the first time that FCC finds 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 the mall.
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 feels that the bush mechanics should apply for land at the designated industrial area.`