The road to the site of the Lobatse Leather Park, is meandering, difficult, bushy, dusty and far away from the town.
It would seem the road to realising the accomplishment of the dream to see the leather park in place and create 5000 jobs to Batswana, is just as troublesome.
It was back in 2014 that the Local Enterprise Authority(LEA) announced that Lobatse would soon be home to a gargantuan leather park that would create 5000 jobs directly, courtesy of a partnership with an Indian research firm. The people of Lobatse and the surrounding areas are still awaiting the delivery of the dream project with bated breaths. That dream seems to be still far.
The leather park site is not located at an ordinary Lobatse site. It is far; far away out in the long drive bushy farms east of the town. If ever it takes shape, as everyone hopes it would; it will take a lot of driving to reach there, as we found out when we tried to locate the dream job creator on Friday.
Past the Lobatse sewarage ponds, beyond the end of the tarmarc road, off we drove on and on, until we reached a dilapidated farm structure with no one manning it. That is what would be the leather park; it is located in what used to be a farm that used to grow cattle feeds, residents tell us. Looking at the bushy state, it would seem, the ambitious project could take some time to shape up and take off, as the huge number of unemployed Batswana watch with frustrations. As we went around the small town of Lobatse searching for the leather park, it was astonishing to hear that many people did not know where the park lies.
“Ahh, I would be lying to you, we do not know where that park is situated, all we know is that it is somewhere in the outskirts of the town,” said a security guard in one of the government facilities . This trend went on for about 30 minutes as we stopped anyone we come across to enquire about the location of the place. Finally as we were just about to give up, some boy directed us to a middle aged man who directed us towards the council ponds, which are in the outskirts of the village.
“Lenna gase gore ke a go itse golo koo, ke utlwa gotwe go bapile le ko matamong a council kwa! tsamaa hela letla botsa bomakatane gone kwa batla le supegetsa, gone mme go sekgalanyana, (I do not even know the damn place; it is rumoured that it is somewhere near the sewerage ponds far away! Just drive on, you will find security guards there, I am sure they will direct you, but it is very far),” he said as he tried to illustrate that it is far.
Following the man’s directions, we ended up in one of the government feeding lots next to the ponds. After the guard showed us the correct route, we almost gave up again as it was just an endless road surrounded by thick bushes that gave my companion a fright and even suggested that we should turn back. Fortunately, a Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) official car appeared on on the horizon even though at first they hesitated to stop for us as they were doubtfull of us and appeared they were fearing for their lives. They told us to continue with the tarred road until it ends and join the gravel road.
After driving for sometime, we again WUC’s facility guards who directed us to go along the road and continue until we reach the leather park.
“Nnya gone mme go sekgalanyana , mme le setse le tsene, tlhamallang fela le tsela ye letla a goroga.” ( It is still far, just shoot straight, you will get there”).
After following the road until its ended, we found a torn gate and bushy fenced plot. At first, we were confused as were expecting to find construction workers on site, or something that will show us that there is an ongoing project there; especially that recently the park has become the topic of discussion as some kind of a life savior for the thousands of unemployed youths.As we stood there amazed and debating with my colleague, a man emerged from the bushes and told us that, this is exactly where the leather park is supposed to be or will be.“Goa agiwa golo foo, Rre Kebonang o nna fela foo ene le bo Mma Toropo, maloba jaana bane ba theipa.” (Work has started there; (MP) Kebonang and the Mayor Catherine Lesang, are coming here very frequently; Just a few days ago, people were busy taking measurements).We jumped out of the car as he ushered us into the plot even showing us an old house, which he said belonged to a white man who used to own the plot long before the council chased him away.