FRANCISTOWN: Botswana Railways (BR) in partnership with BR Properties and Time Projects Botswana (TPB) (Pty) Ltd TBO will build a new mall that will create over 600 jobs.
BR Properties (BRP) first announced plans to build the multi-million-pula Francistown mall in 2014 that is expected to be a replica of the capital city’s Rail Park Mall. During the signing of the Subscription and Shareholders Agreement, BRP managing director Utlwanang Golebanye said that the new mall will create jobs, generate revenue and boost the economy of the second city.
He said that they are going to create about 350 jobs during the construction of the mall and 253 during operation. Golebanye added: “The groundbreaking ceremony for Phase I of the project is anticipated to be done by December 2022.” He said that their site is north of Francistown CBD and about 11.6 hectares. Golebanye said that due to the economic downturns occasioned by COVID-19, the partners resorted to an agreement to construct Phase I of the project which is six hectares at the site. He indicated that Phase I of the project encompasses a shopping centre, filling station, showroom and a drive-through shop. He indicated that Phase I was estimated at P104 million.
Golebanye shared that they have landed in all their major towns which they intend to put to good use by commercialising. He added that the effort is that they want to generate income and support BR to reduce central budget support. Earlier on in her remarks, BR’s acting CEO Chelesile Malele said that the development will be a replica of Rail Park Mall in Gaborone. She said that there has been more concern over their focus on property development through malls than their core business of operating trains.
She assured them that BR is 100% focussed on running trains as well. Malele added: “When it comes to property management, we have a subsidiary of BRP which is mandated to manage all these transactions and projects.BRP also facilitates a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to manage the daily operations of these malls.” She highlighted that the establishment of malls is a trend with some rail administrators in Southern Africa. She stated that the process allows rail administrators to unlock the value of their land so that they can diversify their income and enhance borrowing capacity. BPR conducted a tendering process from which TPB was chosen as the best bidder and as the development partner after the successful conclusion of negotiations of the provisions of the Subscription and Shareholders Agreement.
The partnership model is similar to the Rail Park Mall in which the development partners will own shares in the SPV company. Therefore, BR will lease the development land of the SPV on a 40-year long term lease.