Saturday, September 25, 2021

Planned BR mall in Francistown off track

After Botswana Railways (BR) announced in 2014 that it would construct a multi-mill Pula state-of-the-art mall in Francistown in 2017, fresh information reaching The Telegraph suggests a possibility that the project might not see the light of the day any time soon. 

A source who preferred anonymity at BR told this newspaper that the mall could be stalled as BR is struggling financially and failing to secure investment partners. The mall was to be built at BR’s empty plot in Francistown.

“There is a high possibility that the mall will not be constructed anytime soon or if done can become an elephant. The parastatal is struggling financially and has its own internal problems. 

“The other problem is that BR is struggling to get investment partners to establish the project as that was their intention from the beginning,” said the source.
Meanwhile, Director of Business Services at BR, Stephen Makuke revealed that they were planning to build a mall in Francistown worth P350 million. Makuke, who is now the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Railways, said that talks between BR management and the Francistown City Council (FCC) were already in final stages and the concept had been finalised. 

He also emphasised that BR had identified a lot of potential for investment projects in the second city. 
For close to two weeks, several efforts to get a comment from Botswana Railways by this publication hit a snag. 

Sereo Thabeng, a Public Relations Officer at Botswana Railways told this publication that she had forwarded The Telegraph enquiries to her superiors at BR properties and was awaiting for their response.

“I have since issued your enquiries to Botswana Railways Property management and I am still waiting for their response,” she said on Monday.

However, there was no response at the time of going to press.

Francistown City Council (FCC) Principal Public Relations Officer, Joseph Wasubera could also not comment on the proposed BR project saying that the parastatal was better placed to speak about its affairs.

“What they did is that they consulted us as the city council and expressed their interest to build a mall in Francistown and they were given the go-ahead. They are better placed to speak about the progress of their project,” he said.

Among some of the projects that were earmarked for Francistown by BR was a cargo consolidation hub which would be used for the storage and transportation of cargo.

BR also said in the past that it planned to build an overhaul workshop for its locomotives in Francistown and a railway line from Mosetse to Kazungula which would be used to transport freight to northern African countries. The project was expected to take five years to be completed.

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