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Khama opens P1bn landmark 'Spaghetti' junction

Part of the Thapama interchange. PIC. Keoagile Bonang
FRANCISTOWN: President Ian Khama officially opened the Francistown dual carriageway road and the Thapama interchange, which is popularly known as the ‘Spaghetti’ road on Saturday.

The transport sector, particularly the roads sector, plays a pivotal role in the growth of our economy by transporting a proportionally larger amount of goods than other transport modes, said the President. 

Government, Khama said, has demonstrated high commitment by investing heavily on road infrastructure because it is a strategic element in the growth and strengthening of Botswana’s and any economy.  Additionally, road infrastructure facilitates other productive activities across several sectors of the economy. 

“During construction, which took three years, this project employed on average more than 500 people per month.  The junction has been designed to reduce maintenance costs and travelling time by allowing free flow of traffic.  We need such interventions, not only to promote efficiency, but to, among others, address the growing phenomenon of rising traffic volumes on our roads,” he said.

Last year alone an additional 53,218 vehicles were registered bringing the total number registered in the country to 715,169 and this year so far from January an additional 8,664 has been registered, said the President. 

Heavy trucks transporting goods from countries to the south and north of Botswana, Khama noted, further compound traffic volumes.

“The realisation of traffic volumes, which I just alluded to has compelled us to upgrade the Tonota–Francistown road from a single-carriageway and a roundabout to a dual-carriageway and a Grade Separated Junction. This has been done at a cost of P979,995,312.38. That is close to P1 billion, in order to accommodate and ease traffic on these roads.”

“You will agree with me that this is no small amount.  More so, when considering the many competing needs and the limited resources we have. So, let us all appreciate this huge national investment and make sure that these assets are put to good use and are looked after,” Khama said. 

To buttress the point he was making regarding the need to appreciate this development, and the need to look after it, as well as the associated sacrifices, the President said, “I would like all of us to reflect on the following; 

The Tonota–Francistown road was designed in 2002”.

It then had to be shelved because of the economic recession, and was resuscitated in 2012, he added.

“In the meantime, the traffic volume in Francistown had significantly increased, but we could not avoid the development. This infrastructure is necessary to facilitate communication and trade within

Botswana and in the SADC context, when considering the North-South Corridor, which involves neighbouring states like South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia,” Khama said.  

“We had to carry out our obligations and at the same time change the designs at higher cost because traffic lights had to be introduced to replace the Roundabout at Thapama Hotel.

This compelled the ministry to review its design and accommodate the Grade Separated Junction (Spaghetti), which elegantly came out to be a historical monument and the face of Francistown,” Khama said adding that coming up with such developments in built-up areas is always going to have its challenges. 

In order to come up with these necessary developments some sacrifices have to be made by some, he stated adding that 46 residential plots and six commercial plots had to be expropriated resulting in relocating the residents to Gerald Estate.

Additionally he said five commercial plots were expropriated in Tonota, together with the relocation of underground and overhead services in Tonota and Francistown respectively.

“In the above context, it is proper that we all recognise the significance of the associated sacrifices. We need to take a moment to thank all those who had to yield for the development. I would like you to note that this project is not just limited to Francistown. It includes the upgrading of Shashe Bridge and access roads from gravel to bitumen standard,” he noted. 

The President urged Batswana and other road users to be grateful for the completion of this project and that it will yield great benefits, notably free flow of traffic, a reduction in road user costs and reduced travelling time between Tonota and Francistown. 

“The easing of traffic flow will directly contribute to the increase in business and employment opportunities for Francistown, Tonota communities and the country at large.” 

Khama impressed upon the nation the need to shoulder the responsibility for making this road safer each day, in order to stabilise and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities by as much as 50%, by 2020.

“This target is in line with ‘The UN Decade Plan of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020’, which was officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in March 2010,” Khama said.

The mayor of Francistown Sylvia Muzila said that the Spaghetti road would ease transport congestion in the city.




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