FRANCISTOWN: Botswana Railways (BR) has promised to build an enormous and extraordinary mall here, which is similar to the Rail Park mall in Gaborone.
Speaking at the Francistown City Council (FCC) full council meeting yesterday, BR’s acting chief executive officer (CEO), Letlhogonolo Bantsi said they will develop the second city by creating a retail mall by the first quarter of 2017.
“The retail mall will be located opposite Ngilichi House commonly known as Meriting along the railway line,” he said.
Bantsi said the location is a reserve property for BR hence they will construct a three dimensional mall that will create employment for the people of Francistow. He added as Batswana they believe in diversification, which is why they found it important to have other stakeholders coming on board to partner with them to complete the project.
He disclosed they are planning to add a hotel in the mall to make it more exquisite than the Rail Park mall. Bantsi also revealed that the BR train will resume operation effective March 2016.
The acting CEO said the passenger train is being reintroduced after a market study indicated that 80 percent of Batswana have been longing for the re-introduction of train. He added that the train will have 37 coaches where 18 will be for the economy seats, two for business, two for sleepers and the rest of the couches would be for the luggage van.
He disclosed that there is an ongoing training with about 24 trainees of which eight of them are female.
“We have decided to engage females in this male dominated profession to bring equality among both genders in this profession,” he said.
Bantsi said they have reduced the stations of the train from 19 to only six stations in Francistown, Serule, Palapye, Mahalapye, Gaborone and Lobatse.
He added they are going to modify the stations and the train to meet the modern lifesyle.
“There will be accessible Wi-Fi, television, comfortable and adjustable seats, tight security and a mini conference room for the executives in the train,” he said. He said to reduce congestion and standing in the train, tickets will be sold in shopping outlets, adding that the seat number will correspond with the tickets.
He noted that there will be offers for job opportunities to young Batswana, as there will be regular tenders of catering, cleaning and security. Bantsi said the train fare for the economy class would be 90 percent of the bus fares; business will be 150 percent and sleepers 250 percent of the bus fare between Francistown to Lobatse. He revealed that in four years they will have also connected a railway line and have a train that will operate from Mosetse to Kazungula Bridge.