To add to the on-going facelift, which is part of its business review, Khumo Property Asset Management, the managers of Rail Park mall in Gaborone, have hinted that they will conduct a survey in future to see what consumers need.
The company last week announced that it will spend P20 million to revamp the mall, which is located at the bus rank, where close to a million commuters pass every month. The exercise will shift businesses around and usher in South African retail giants Edgars, who will occupy a sizeable piece of the mall. Khumo Property Chief Executive Officer, Outule Bale, told Sunday Standard they have not really interacted with the public, but rather shop owners–who provide them with monthly statistics on their performances.
“We have not really done a survey with shoppers, but we interact with retailers as they interact with the buyers,” he said. “The retailers provide us with their monthly turnovers. I think a survey will come in time”.
Although Rail Park is seen as the busiest mall in the country, that status has not necessarily translated into benefit to shop owners as mostly the traffic is from transit people on their way to the outskirts of Gaborone. The situation is made worse by students who normally want to hang out at the mall after school without really spending money. Thousands of commuters use the bus rank area everyday as they connect to greater Gaborone including major centres like Molepolole, Mochudi, Lobatse, Ramotswa, Kanye and hamlets on the peripheries.
“We are not complaining about people passing through the mall. We only want them to spend time at the mall,” explained Bale.
As part of turning any space into cash, Rail Park will also do away with features like the taxi area and replace part of the idle place with a filling station that will be operated by Puma Energy, a local petroleum company. Bale revealed that the taxi and combi bay became a contentious issue as it meant operating parallel taxi ranks.
Initially, the owners of the mall wanted to arrange the hawkers and allow only registered ones to operate within the mall with a new taxi bay able to accommodate 92 taxis to be built. This was to be in addition to 840 car parking slots for customers.
The mall has not seen a rise in crime incidents as many expected maybe because the original commuter and pedestrian bridge was not demolished, but complimented by the new one linking the taxi rank and Rail Park.
“We have not really experienced anything out of the norm in terms of security. We are not really doing badly at Rail Park,” boasted Bale.
Rail Park competes with other malls including Gaborone Main Mall, BBS Mall, African Mall, RiverWalk Mall, Game City, Sebele Centre and Airport junction. CBD and its swankier spots have made retailers run for their monies. The Rail Park mall sits on one of the prime plots that Botswana Railways, a state owned company, owns along the railway line from Ramatlabama to Ramokgwebana. This was the flagship property development since BR Properties, a subsidiary of BR, was set up.