Over 60 traders at the Francistown Central Market intend to petition Francistown City Council (FCC) after they were issued with a final notice to vacate the market premises.
FCC is demanding the traders to vacate the premises to give way for new developments. The final notice was issued last week.
FCC first served the traders with an eviction order last year on the 29th of April to the 31st of May 2021.
The traders have since refused to vacate the premises demanding the city council to provide them with an alternative area where they can continue operating their businesses.
They have also accused the city council of making unilateral decisions without consulting them.
The Telegraph is in possession of the final notice from the city council dated 4th of February 2022 which reads “Council has observed that despite considerate engagements, a considerable number of stalls are still being occupied despite the lapsed vacation of the notice period date of 31 May 2021. Council has contractual obligations to fulfill with the developer who has been put on hold for a long time hence delaying the delivery of services to Francistown.”
The city council has since engaged Amasa Civils Pty (Ltd) a contractor that was awarded a Ground Lease Agreement on the 23nd of April 2021 to re-develop the Central Market.
The traders are further required to vacate and hand over the keys to the Estate Management Offices and also provide proof utility clearance from Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) and the Botswana Power Corporation before the 28th of February 2022.
The city council has further warned that failure to comply with the final notice of eviction will compel it to institute legal action against the traders.
The traders are expected to bear the costs of removing all of their belongings upon vacation of each stall. They are also expected to disconnect all of their utilities or services from their stalls and clear all the accrued bills that may be outstanding.
. The Telegraph is in possession of a copy of the petition from the market traders. They maintain that it is the obligation of the city council to find them a suitable place to operate their businesses from if they are evicted.
“The market area has over 60 traders who have created over 240 jobs. Evicting the market place simply means losing our identity and livelihood,” reads part of the petition.
The traders are demanding the city council to reverse its decision to evict them from the market or find them an alternative place.
Francistown Central Market forms part of the second city’s history as it has been in existence for over 100 years.
Speaking to the Telegraph in an interview the Chairperson of the Tenants Association Oduetse Mogomotsi Moleele who represents the traders confirmed that they indeed received a final notice to vacate the central market premises last week. He however could not share details of their petition saying that preparations are still at preliminary stage.
“For now I cannot share any details because preparations are still at an early stage. We are still discussing. But once the discussion is over we will serve the petition to the relevant authorities,” he said.
FCC has since maintained that prior to signing a Ground Agreement with another contractor(Equality Properties Pty(Ltd) who failed the contract in 2004, the traders were relocated to other council owned market stalls such as the Bus Rank, Airport, Somerset and others to give way to Equality Properties Pty Ltd to commence the re-development project.
Upon termination of Equality Properties on 2018, council then realized that there were some tenants who occupied the market illegally. FCC maintains that the tenants were fully consulted through their association on the envisioned council development.