The Gaborone City Council (GCC) has expressed concern over the illegal displaying of adverts and posters within the council area.
Keorapetse Busanang, the GCC Estate Manager, said illegal display of posters, placards and advertisements was not a worrying issue a decade ago but is increasingly rocking the city.
Busanang said that even though people put up posters and placards illegally, the bigger problem is the outdoor advertising industry.
“There is currently no law that criminalises the illegal erecting of billboards, as such our hands are tied. We have to follow court procedures which take long to process while many continue to mushroom and the companies rake in money,” he said.
Busanang also said that a lot of the companies are aware that erecting the billboards illegally is not a criminal offence.
He cited an incident in which one well known company had erected a billboard and left a note telling the GCC officers that “without a court order they cannot touch” the board.
He lamented the fact that outdoor advertising companies are refusing to allow the GCC to supervise the erection of the billboards.
“Government certified engineers should supervise the erection of the billboards; the companies bypass the law and go to the extent of erecting the billboards overnight,” he said.
Busanang also told The Telegraph that their battle is to build a “SADC city” and erecting billboard structures everywhere will only result in an ugly city.
He said that they are currently lobbying for government to implement a law that would make it a criminal offence to erect billboards without supervision from the GCC as it is now developed into an uncontrollable situation.
“Relevant authorities have been made aware of the problem,” he said. “When cabinet came to brief the council last month, the mayor highlighted the problem and we are waiting for a response.”
He also expressed concern over the displaying of posters, placards and advertisements by individuals on city walls, saying that though there is a law that prohibits people from placing the adverts, there is also currently no penalty for offenders.
“This might only be treated as a nuisance in the court,” he said.
According to Bye Law 15 (1) of the Town Planning Act, “No bill, poster, placard or advertisement shall be displayed within the council area without the written consent of the council.”
It further states that “the council shall withhold its consent only if it considers the display of the bill, poster, placard or advert to be in distraction to motorists, or objectionable in substance, presentation or scale”.
Busanang said that some people approach the GCC to ask for permission to place adverts but stated that a good number of posters and placards around the city were placed illegally.
To address the issue pertaining to illegal placards and posters, he revealed that all they can do for now is to remove them.
“Our bye law officers go around Gaborone and remove them from school fences, road signs and wall buildings, but within a short period of time, the individuals come and put them back up,” conceded Busanang.