Construction of the multipurpose shopping complex in the new Central Business District (CBD) is set to resume this year after a year’s delay over environmental regulatory approvals.
The multi-million-Pula complex is funded by Smart partnership, a consortium of high profile Batswana businesspeople.
According to one of the Smart Partnership directors, Terence Dambe, the investors are taking stock and readjusting the project’s scope after construction was halted by environmental authorities due to the absence of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the project.
Dambe noted that they had since complied with the EIA requirements as ordered by the authorities. “Having met the EIA requirements we have been given the go ahead to proceed with the project,” he said.
Dambe further said there had been a delay in proceeding with construction because they had taken stock of the whole project, including costs, funding and timeframes. “Due to the delay we have to consult with prospective tenants as well as evaluating their financial resources. It takes time to re-adjust,” he said.
Dambe also said construction of the shopping mall was expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015. He said they had initially wanted the project to be completed within 18 months. He added that they have been working behind the scenes to get the project back on track. “We are pushing hard to complete the necessary preparations. We are working tirelessly to move the project,” he said.
Dambe conceded that the project delay had resulted in financial setbacks. He said they were allocated the CBD plot for mixed use, which meant they could put up a shopping complex, commercial offices or residential apartments. They decided to construct a retail-shopping complex. He stated that they were funding the project from their own pocket, adding that they were still in negotiations with various potential funders. He also revealed that the shareholders had put up equity.
Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Wildlife and Environment, Annah Bogatsu confirmed that they had stopped the construction of the mall after realising that it contravened the Environmental regulations. She said the developers were directed to conduct a full Environmental Impact Assessment before they could proceed with development.
Bogatsu said the company had since complied, and had submitted a detailed EIA statement, which was approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs. She said the report had highlighted possible impacts of the project on the environment, and identified mitigation measures to minimise the impact.
The CBD mall is set to be the second shopping precinct in the fast developing central business district, after The Square Mart, which opened its doors five years ago.