FRANCISTOWN – A feasibility study carried by the Botswana Railways Properties to construct a multimillion pula in Francistown is said to be have been completed.
Sunday Standard has also been informed that the state owned company has since identified a partner to start the project.
Botswana Railways (BR) Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja this week confirmed the latest development.
“We are still awaiting approval from our Board including Francistown City Council and other stake-holders for the project to begin and we expect it to perhaps commence towards the last quarter of this year”.
Botswana Railways (BR) Properties announced plans to build a mall worth over 300 million in Francistown four years ago. The project was expected to take-off during in 2017. The project was delayed as BR properties said that it was still trying to identify partners and was conducting a feasibility study.
Although there have been allegations that the project may be relocated from Francistown Makwinja laughed off allegations as false and baseless.
“Those allegations are not true. We are currently working around the clock to make sure that the project becomes a success more so that we have identified a partner,” he said.
The envisaged huge state of the art mall which will be the first of its kind in the second city will encompass luxurious hotels, parks and other amenities. It is also expected to add value to the economy of Francistown in the form of business and employment opportunities.
The targeted piece of land where BR Mall construction will take place belongs to Botswana Railways and it measures 11 hectares.
Francistown which is currently facing serious economic challenges after several closure of mines in its surrounding is in dire need for investment. The second city is currently plagued by among others challenges of unemployment and poverty. The city council has since come up with vision 2022, an initiative that seeks to transform the second city into an economic hub by 2022. The city has also been identified as a Special Economic Zone(SEZ) for the Transportation, Logistics and Mining hub by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).
Makwinja however said that the project will be constructed in phases and it expected to take at least one year.
Some of the projects that were earmarked for Francistown by BR are a cargo consolidation hub which will be used for the storage and transportation of cargo, an overhaul workshop and a railway line from Mosetse to Kazungula.
Makwinja said the cargo consolidation hub is also underway as they have identified land in Francistown to commence the project. The land which is located near Kgaphamadi location in Francistown measures 3.5 hectors. He however said they will not be building the overhaul workshop as they had initially stated but explained that they have a leased property in Francistown which they can use as an overhaul workshop.
As for the Mosetse- Kazungula railway line he said that they still have to identify a consultant to conduct a feasibility study for the project. He said they are setting up a project office which will be used to undertake the study.
“This is a huge project and it will need at least 800 million US dollars. We will have to look for funding. Construction of the project is expected to take at least five years” he said.
The Mosetse- Kazungula railway line is expected to facilitate trade between Botswana and the North African countries.