Palapye economy: boom or bust?

Situated 240 kilometres from Gaborone and only 170 from Francistown, Palapye is being regarded as the most convenient stopover in one of Southern Africa’s principal north-south rail and road routes.

Over the years Palapye has been regarded as the future industrial hub of Botswana and this was prompted by its geographical position and industrial boom that was taking place in the village. Due to the envisaged multimillion projects that were earmarked for the village, in 1997 Palapye was said to be the fastest growing village in Africa and its population expected to expand from 30 000 to over 180 000.

In 2005 the government of Botswana established the Botswana University of Science and Technology Act of 2005 which paved way for the construction of the university in Palapye in 2009.With the construction of the P500 million university sprang up new hotels and residentials. The construction of the university by China Civil Engineering Construction was supposed to be completed by 2011 but delayed. It was completed in 2012 and its business relocated to Palapye this year after it was temporarily based in Oodi. The people of Palapye are yet to see the economic impact of BIUST in their village as most houses which they built targeting BIUST are now becoming ghost houses.

The Glass Project
In 2011 while still excited about the construction of the first Science and Technology University in their village, residents of Palapye were given good news. Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) had funded a glass project in their village at the tune of P530 million. It was a joint venture with China based Shanghai Glass Manufacturing Company.

Real estate business in the village boomed as the company employed 150 people and was expected to employ more when completed. The hopes of the people of Palapye and Batswana in general were dashed when the project started to face some problems between BDC and their partners which led the project to collapse. Currently the project is in a sorry state.

Palapye Police Station
Due to its economic boom government saw it fit to construct a new police station in Palapye which would meet the needs of the expanding village. In 2009 government awarded the P183 million project to China Jiang Xi International Technology Corporation. The police station was completed in 2012 and is yet to be handed to the police as it has not yet been connected with a water system.  The state of the art police station is now a white elephant along the A1 road.

The infamous Morupule Power B

Since 1973 Palapye has been the source of power for Botswana as it has over 15 billion tonnes of coal with its ore body extending as far as Moiyabana over 60 km from where the mine presently is.

In 2010 Botswana started an ambitious project of being self-sufficient as it currently imports 80 percent of its power. The Morupule B power station was supposed to produce 600 MW and its first output of 150 MW expected in January 2012. The construction of the multibillion project created excitement as it was supposed to create 600 jobs for locals. Like other projects in Palapye it was given to a Chinese company China National Electric Equipment Corporation [CNEEC]. In its initial face Morupule B was to employ 300 people to operate the station and Palapye businesses positioned themselves well with banks opening branches in the village. Like other projects in Palapye, Morupule B has also rendered the construction boom in the village of a population of over 37 000 as just false hope.

Village leadership worried
Chairperson for the Palapye Township Authority Onneetse Ramogapi said that the most painful thing about the mega projects in their village is that central government officials never update them about their progress.“We are just from the sub district full council meeting and nothing was reported about the progress of Morupule B, the Glass project and the new police station in the district development committee report,’’ said Ramogapi.

He said that if they do report to them, they come ill prepared and give them contradictory statements. The Palapye township authority chairperson is worried that people are beginning to lose hope and trust in them as the leadership both locally and nationally as they never update them on progress of developments in the village. “How do you build a state of the art police station without ensuring that there will be water supply? That is just sheer negligence on the part of the responsible ministry," charged Ramogapi. He said it is even more worrying that investors are beginning to lose hope in Palapye and might relocate to other areas.

Last modified on Friday, 14 March 2014 12:26

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