Saturday, June 15, 2024

Drone deliveries are no longer pie in the sky, but new Francistown CBD is

Imagine ordering a toothpaste or pizza, and instead of it arriving after an hour via a scooter man they arrive in less than 15 minutes, from the sky. How long until that happens? In some countries that is already happening.

But now imagine the country’s second city, Francistown with a new Central Business District (CBD). How feasible is this? In the plan drawn by the Francistown City Council (FCC) more than a decade ago such was possible.

While the plan by FCC was to use its land bordering Nyangabwe Referral Hospital, otherwise known as ‘the golf course’, the undeveloped plot has now transformed into a hot spot for criminals. Nothing much has been achieved when it comes to transforming the land into a CBD.

The plot was at some point leased to the Francistown Golf Club which has since failed to develop the plot into the desired standard. The Club collapsed and the city council then decided to take over the facility and changed its use.

Upon taking it back, the FCC first proposed to develop the under-utilized 42-hectare plot into a CBD in 2013 as part of its vision to diversify the ailing economy of Francistown and bring about the much-needed jobs for the residents.

The CBD project was expected to accommodate state of the art hotels, an International Convention Centre, high density residential area, mall and recreational park among others.

With the Francistown’s economy having been on a downward trajectory over the years owing to the closure of a number of mines in the vicinity of the city due to a slump in commodity prices, the CBD was to be a messiah of some sort.

The second city’s population surpassed 100 000, in the last national census, yet the labour figures shows that more than half of it is battling unemployment, poverty and crime.

This project was aimed at helping to resuscitate the economy of the second city and return it to its past glory. FCC has over the years cited lack of funds, failure to identify private partners in funding and developing the area.

The Francistown City Clerk Stephen Motlogelwa told Sunday Standard that the project has not been able to see the light of day due to failure to service this land to the required standard.

He said the city council is currently looking for partners from the private sector to help in that regard. He however emphasized that the city council has rezoned the plot into a mixed-use precinct and subdivided it into 15 plots.

“The city council carried out a cadastral survey in 2017 which was followed by a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment in 2018 and the layout plan was revisited in 2023, after a feasibility study was conducted in 2022,” said Motlogelwa.

He also revealed that the city council has engaged different stakeholders and service providers to assist with development of the plots and attraction of investors. He emphasized that currently the proposed layout is undergoing cadastral survey to match the needs of developers.

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