Monday, January 25, 2021

Influential Government officers frustrate official plan for personal benefit

Scores of influential government officials, among them a former cabinet member, who were involved in the Gaborone North land speculation, frustrated the government plan for the area, apparently because it would eat into their profits.

As a result, hundreds of residents who bought subdivided plots in Gaborone North will have to live without sewage connections, running water, tarred roads and some have built houses on land that was designated for open spaces or civic and community uses.
Sunday Standard can reveal that some influential government officials, including a former cabinet member, bought farms in Gaborone North, then subdivided and sold them at very high prices, sometimes without even a whisper of consent from the Department of Town and Regional Planning (DTRP).
It was planned that the development of Gaborone North would be led by the private sector, like Phakalane Estates. However, unlike the developers of Phakalane Estates, Gaborone Land owners would not commit money into the infrastructural development of the area, they simply wanted to make a fast buck and move on.

A Department of Lands insider told Sunday Standard that residents may have to live without running water, sewage connections and tarred roads because government will not intervene in a private township.

A DTRP insider revealed to the Sunday Standard that some of the land owners took advantage of loopholes in the law which required them to seek planning permission from DTRP but also gave the Director of Surveys and Mapping the power to approve building plans without making reference to the DTRP. Most land owners simply got the Surveys and Mapping stamp of approval and went ahead with the land allocations.

The Gaborone North planning chaos was further complicated by the fact that the land owners, who want to make a fast buck, will not commit any money into servicing the land, are refusing to cede part of their plots for infrastructure provision as required by the Gaborone North plan. They are also refusing to comply with the requirements for the provision of civic and community plots and open spaces, “rather they want to provide only residential plots which they sell”, states a Report of Survey on the implementation of Gaborone North Structure Plan.

“Most of these big shorts simply took the money and dumped the land on buyers with all its problems,” said an insider from the Department of Lands. The Draft Gaborone Development Plan put together by the Gaborone City Council and the Ministry of Lands and Housing observes that “it is really a matter of great concern that Government spent huge sums of money to prepare a structure plan for Gaborone North and its proposals, which were borne out of consensus/consultations as well as approved by the board, are not being adhered to by the landowners. If the implementation problems listed above are allowed to continue, then we will end up with a township that is not functional, in the absence of civic and community facilities; adequate road reserves for the provision of infrastructure facilities; and proper connectivities”.

The report states that the land owners did not observe the road network as proposed by the plan. Some roads are 10 meters, instead of 15 meters. In some cases, access roads prepared by the developers were closed by land owners apparently to create more land to sell.


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