Tuesday, December 7, 2021

‘Security threat’ – OP stops construction of BoB head office

The Office of the President has shot down a plan by Bank of Botswana to build a six storey head office block after fears were raised that a person sitting in an office of that building would have full view of the State House, Sunday Standard can confirm.

The construction of the high-rise office block was occasioned by the Bank’s shortage of office space at the Central Bank’s head office.

Sunday Standard can also confirm that the final decision to put down the Bank’s ambitions was taken by President Ian Khama who agreed with advice from his security officials that it would not be prudent for Bank of Botswana to go ahead with the plan for a high rise office construction.

This has resulted with the Bank going back to drawing boards to once again come up with new plans on how best to alleviate their office needs.

The Bank is situated a few metres from the State House.

What is however surprising is that the six storey building that Bank of Botswana intended to build would not in any way have been the highest building in that locality.

There are other higher landmarks in the vicinity that include government ministries as well as diplomatic offices that would still have out-sprawled the height of the proposed Bank of Botswana head office had it been allowed.
This week the Bank of Botswana Head of Communications, Andrew Sesinyi stayed clear of holding the Office of the President responsible for scuttling the Bank’s ambitions.
 
He instead held that the proposed office plan ran counter to height restrictions for the area as imposed by Gaborone City Development Plan.

“Several development options have been considered, including a high-rise option.┬á It has, however, been considered that such a building would not meet the height restrictions for the area imposed under the Gaborone City Development Plan. The Bank is continuing to assess options to address its office accommodation,” said Sesinyi in response to Sunday Standard enquiries.

A planning official at Gaborone City Council and another one in the Office of the president confirmed that it was a decision reached at much higher levels.

They could only talk on condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the matter.

Both of them said President Khama had taken personal interest in the plan as submitted to his office by the Bank of Botswana.

In the end he overruled the proposed construction on security grounds.

“It is not correct to say City Council rejected the Plan. In fact if it was our call we would approve it,” said the official.

As things stand, Bank of Botswana is still scrounging around to find out what to do with their office needs which are said to be pressing.

“What surprises all of us is that State House is across the road from Bank of Botswana, with considerable distance between the two and built in houses in between. There was no way the proposed building was going to interfere with security, safety or privacy of State House tenants. It all smacks of insecurity,” said one source.
Sesinyi underscored the fact that Bank of Botswana will now be considering other options.

“Since establishment of the Bank of Botswana in 1976, its headquarters premises have progressively expanded as the functions and establishment of the Bank increased.┬á As is normal, periodic reviews have been undertaken to assess the appropriateness of the facilities to meet expected growth, as well as developments in security, building management and telecommunications.┬á In this respect, the Bank has been considering options for a significant upgrade of its headquarters facilities since 2005,” said Sesinyi.

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