I am responding to Myra Gillette’s letter to Sunday Standard (page 12 of 15-12 November, 2009).
I accept any constructive criticism because the dialogue becomes fruitful and rewarding to the audience.
For instance, there are many residents in Phakalane who do not make an effort to inform themselves about the various local authorities and their responsibilities. Phakalane has a website to be visited for more information and to call departments of utility corporations.
Myra: Lesang Magang has a weekly property radio talk show. This covers, lifestyle, property investment and, in particular, Phakalane has become arguably the most desired investment destination.
Lesang: We decided to have this show as the developers of the first privately developed town, besides selling new Phakalane projects the intention is to promote property ownership in Botswana. Phakalane believes that, as a choice destination, the tide of homeownership will raise all ships.
Myra: Phakalane was sold as having the stuff that dreams were made of; that was the reason we bought. However, what Phakalane sells to the public as secure with the Golf Estate and Thobo Hamlet is not the reality in old Phakalane.
Lesang: The vision of creating Phakalane started as early as 1970 a year after David Magang started working. But it was only in 1978 that the design and application to Government to develop Phakalane was submitted. It was only in 1989 that the Mowana Park development started, which now forms part of Greater Phakalane (Mowana, Acacia, Talana & Segodi Park). All these phases were developed over a 12 year period for over P100 million pula and plots sold to individuals. The procedure is that Phakalane Estate, as the developer, constructs to completion the secondary and tertiary infrastructures and hands these over to BPC, WUC, BTC & GCC for free for maintenance. The bills and rates you pay are to maintain the infrastructures in Phakalane. There is also supposed to be a VDC in Phakalane, which we only discovered the Sebele residents were supposed to share clean ups with Phakalane.
Myra: Phakalane is known as little Harare for all the wrong reasons.
Lesang: I agree with you that this does not provide the best environment. However, all illegal immigrants who work in gardens, homes and building sites are employed by residents of Phakalane and not by the Magang’s. All the relevant authorities are constantly following up this problem and you could help by reporting any illegal encounters. Some residents pay them below minimum wages in order to exploit their economic situation.
Myra: Property owners were given time bound leases to have built their homes. Many plots remain undeveloped and the incomplete ones shelter squatters. Criminals also use these. As you can imagine there is no sanitation.
Lesang: Phakalane has a building covenant of 3-4 years in greater Phakalane and 2 years in the Golf Estate. I agree with you that undeveloped and semi developed plots attract undesirables. Phakalane has been on a massive drive of enforcing the building covenant. There are over 100 plots that are with our lawyers. We have even gone as far as the Court of Appeal to establish the right to repossess plots. Though this has made me unpopular to many, we are carrying on. You must also appreciate that some of the “squatters” are intentionally placed by owners to guard building material on the construction sites. However, I agree that the GCC and Botswana Police should be more diligent in getting rid of squatters and criminals in Phakalane.
Myra: There are tuck shops, Chibuku depots and all sorts of activity of people urinating on our walls and road verges. There is livestock roaming the streets.
Lesang: You might not be aware that there is Phakalane Residents Association (PRA) which our councilor Mrs Mguni sits on. One of the association’s projects, which starts in 2010, is to create a proper park. This is the 9 hectare plot along the large storm drain running behind Phakalane Primary School. PRA’s other role is to assist with sending complaints/reports to Gaborone City Council Parks, Bye Law, Roads, and Sewerage or Electrical departments. Phakalane Estates has long made a proposal to Gaborone City Council to have cattle grids to stop livestock from coming up the Ruretse Road from Tlokweng and Oodi. Though the proposal was accepted in principle, it has not materialized.
Myra: Phakalane is now getting a reputation of being home to Asia and European Mafia and drug lords.
Lesang: That is why I am glad the Department of Intelligence and Security was set up for the whole country. Unfortunately, even in Constantia in Cape Town they have the same problem. Phakalane is now internationally known by anyone with an interest in Botswana, even as early as the time of the Marietta Bosch case. Phakalane is home to the highest concentration of high net income earners. This means it will attract all kinds of people. It’s for the DIS and residents to be vigilant in this regard to maintain Phakalane as a safe and clean place.
Myra: Service delivery in old Phakalane leaves a lot to be desired. Streetlights, refuse collection. Dumping indiscriminately of building and garden refuse.
Lesang: My suggestion is that we need you to be on the residents association. As a rate payer you need to be demanding the service from Gaborone City Council. However, a lot of the problems of dumping of garden and building refuse are caused by the residents. Phakalane has for the past few years hired men who have caught residents and their builders dumping even around their yards. Residents need to cooperate with the authorities on this matter. Did you also know that the porta cabin, including lights and water for the Police Station is paid for by Phakalane Estates. The residents association and Gaborone City Council are working together to improve this. As the developer, we are promoting Phakalane internationally as we want to double the size of Phakalane in the next 5-10 years with the world’s elite. We want Phakalane and Botswana to be a base to do business in Africa. We plan on bringing developments to Phakalane that you can only imagine possible in Dubai, you will see the launch soon of a Waterfront Peninsula.
Myra: Traffic is a nightmare with only one exit.
Lesang: I agree with you, including the fact that it’s a safety problem should there be an emergency. Phakalane now has roughly over 15 000 people, obviously the one exit is not coping. We are working closely with Gaborone City Council and our Member of Parliament on this. Broadhurst and Ledumang connect at the top end of Glen Valley Barracks. This road is meant to connect to Magang Avenue. As you can imagine we are reliant on Government as the south and west of Phakalane is owned by Government. The new industrial area in the north, called Morula Park, will have a new connection 1km up the Oodi/Mmamashia turn off. This will relieve pressure for Segodi & Acacia Park residents to exit in the north.
Myra: I am told there are helipads planned by residents in the Golf Estates to skip traffic.
Lesang: I love rumours like this as it shows people are finally thinking big in Botswana. Yes, there will be one to provide the service. As you are aware, Phakalane is building a Hotel in Golf Estate as well as attracting many millionaires. The wealthy of today own various forms of transport. As you know we believe in the saying that the tide will raise all ships. Phakalane Estate’s vision is to be simply unique. Along this long journey we will take Gaborone City Council, Government and residents with us.
*Magang is the Managing Director of Phakalane Estates