Construction of a multi million Pula shopping mall at the Gaborone central business district (CBD) will soon commence after the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism approved plans by the sponsors. Terrence Dambe, one of the directors of Smart Partnership Enterprises, the company behind the project, told Sunday Standard that it’s all systems go because the Ministry has given the green light for the project to proceed.
“We have been given the go ahead by the Ministry and we are thankful for that. Construction on the site will commence very soon,” he said.
He further revealed that the project is expected to be complete and operational either late next year or early 2016, creating jobs and business opportunities for many Batswana. When fully operational, the shopping mall will have shops, large parking areas as well as residential houses.
The project was apparently blocked by the Ministry after the developers failed to conduct an environment impact assessment (EIA) and file a report with the Ministry. According to Dambe, Smart Partnership Enterprises was given the green light by the Department of Town and Regional Planning and proceeded with earth works on the plot, only to for the MEWT to stop them on their tracks and instruct them to halt further developments until an EIA has been constructed.
The company complied and the Ministry has since approved the report and given them permission to proceed. Asked if they did not know that it was necessary to conduct an EIA, Dambe said they thought that since it was an urban planning all what was needed was for them to clear the area of all trees and start construction.
“We thought the EIA was unnecessary but we were wrong. The good thing is we have done the assessment and the report has been approved,” he said.
The other directors of the company are amongst others Seleka Mokama, Cathrine Kgomanyane, Samuel Mphuchane and Kabelo Ebineng. However, those close to the project have revealed that the Ministry is not happy with the conduct of the company, as they went against the rules, cutting down some indigenous trees which they were not supposed to do.
“The feeling at the Ministry is that they knowingly cut down trees that they were not supposed to cut down. I believe they will pay a heavy price for that,” said the source.
He further revealed that the company has proposed to import some exotic trees to replace the ones they cut down. MEWT Public Relations officer Caroline Bogale Jaeyeoba declined to comment on the issue saying: “talk to the developers of the plot they are better placed to tell you what happened”.