Monday, July 22, 2024

City threatens to terminate developer’s contract

FRANCISTOWN: City Council (FCC) Mayor Godisang Radisigo has hinted at the possibility of terminating the lease agreement between the developer of Francistown Central Market and the council. 

FCC has since engaged Amasa Civils Pty (Ltd) – a contractor that was awarded a Ground Lease Agreement on the 23nd of April 2021 – to re-develop the Central Market. 

The possibility of terminating the lease agreement comes on the backdrop of the on-going tussle between the city council and over 40 traders occupying the market who are refusing to vacate the premises to allow for re-development.

The city council has since taken the traders to Francistown High Court seeking a court order to evict them. On the other hand, the traders have also vowed to fight the city council in court as they feel that the eviction is unjust. They have accused the city council of not providing them with an alternative place to operate their businesses from. They have also pointed a blaming finger at the city council for making unilateral decisions without their consultation. 

Businesses that are found at the central market include among others, tailors, technicians, agricultural produce sellers and food catering businesses. Francistown Central Market is over 100 years old and it forms part of the history of the second city.

Speaking during a full council meeting on Monday, Radisigo said this re-development has failed to take off due to the traders who are refusing to vacate the central market premises.

“The High Court has granted eviction order for 26 market stalls. The remaining 20 respondents were served with notice of heads on the 11th of September 2023 and the hearing on the matter sat on the 18th of September 2023. The final judgement will be delivered on the 14th of December 2023,” he said.

The mayor emphasized that continuous non-compliance to the lease agreement will lead to termination of the lease. He however said despite the aforementioned challenges they are not going to lose sight of their vision as the city council to revitalize the city centre and create a conducive and sustainable spaces for both the formal and informal sector. 

These traders were first given an eviction order by the city council to vacate the market premises on the 29th of April 2021. They were expected to disconnect all of their utilities or services from their stalls and clear all the accrued bills that may be outstanding and submit proof to the city council.

The city council maintains  that prior to signing a Ground Agreement with another contractor who failed the contract (Equality Properties Pty(Ltd)} in 2004, the tenants were relocated to other council owned market stalls such as the Bus Rank, Airport, Somerset and others to give way to Equality Properties Pty Ltd to commence the re-development project. 

Upon termination of Equality Properties in 2018, council then realized that there were some tenants who occupied the market illegally. It has also maintained that over the years the traders were consulted through their association on the envisioned council development.

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