Following the identification of Francistown as one of the country’s economic hubs by the Botswana Excellence Strategy, the city was designated a centre for Mining and Transport Logistics hub.
“As a city, we therefore realised the importance of embarking into a Revitalisation Plan which will lay the ground on specific areas of the city for the attraction of capital investments without compromising on the city’s fabric and identity,” said the Mayor of Francistown, Sylvia Muzila when addressing the city’s Full Council session on Monday.
According to Muzila, the project is to review holistically some key precincts within the city with the view to revitalising the centre, create opportunities of economic prosperity, competitiveness with a healthy living environment which will lead to a dynamic, attractive town for investments and living. “This exercise covers the entire Francistown CBD from the old BMC circle to the traffic lights on the Nata-Zimbabwe junction road,” she said.
The main objective of the plan, for whose consultation with stakeholders is ongoing, entails, inter alia, the facilitation of best use of land in the project area by allocating specific parcels of land the most appropriate land use activities, the identification of systems that ensure integration and sustainability of various land uses in the project areas.
The plan also aims at the creation of opportunities which provide choices and conveniences in the project areas as well as explore and reconnect appropriate urban revitalisation strategies. The plan aims to facilitate the protection of the environment by identifying environmental sensitive areas and recommend appropriate conservation measures.
“Clearly, what is required is not a comprehensive master plan for the whole town as a whole, rather, the identification of strategic projects which, when taken in combination, can lead to an increase in investor confidence and can spark spontaneous revitalisation in the areas around them.
“Conceptually, the challenge is to transform the Blue Jacket from a road (conduit primarily for motor cars) to a ‘great street’ (a multi-functional linear space accommodating a number of human activities, including movements of different modes,” revealed the Mayor.
Muzila said that her Council continues to enforce the laws applied to illegal billboards as part of ensuring orderly developments within the city and the intensification of revenue collection. She said Council has identified 279 billboards erected within the city 200 of which had no planning permission. Only 79 applicants complied with the demands of the enforcement notice.
As a way forward, Council, with the assistance of the Police, has managed to uproot 107 non-complaint billboards that are within council road reserve and three (3) which are within private property are awaiting issuance of a court order for their removal which court order is still being sought with the Land Tribunal.
The Mayor appealed to the private sector to play its role in making the city look inviting to investors and tourists. “I note that some have already started presenting forth their efforts in that regard,” she explained. Muzila is happy that the Supa Ngwao Museum in Francistown has reopened.
She has confidence that it will become a destination for visitors. The other projects related to the revitalisation of Francistown, according to Muzila are, the parking study within the CBD, the development of open spaces, the rezoning of the Central Residential Area, and the redevelopment of Mummies recreational facility.
“Of course, these developments come with costs and we will need to learn to live with them,” advised the Mayor. She informed the councillors that, one major project that is coming is the Gerald-Aerodrome Link Road and Servicing of Phase 4, “... of which I am happy to inform this house that the supervising consultant has been appointed and came for a site visit on the 18th August 2017. This therefore instils in us the confidence that the project will start soon,” said the Mayor.
She said the street lighting project is being addressed with the aim to fast-track it. Muzila also told FCC Full session that a lot of progress has been made on the road maintenance project in Francistown.