FRANCISTOWN: The liquidator of mines under the BCL group Nigel Dixon-Warren has disclosed that former BCL employees in Selebi Phikwe will continue staying at houses owned by the company for the next 12 months.
The former BCL workers were supposed to have moved last month. The liquidator of the mine had already issued letters to the former BCL workers requesting them to vacate the mine houses by the end of January, following the expiry of their lease agreements.
The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BWMU) then pleaded with the government to continue paying rental fees for the former employees so that their lease agreement could be extended.
“Over 1,200 former employees have signed the new lease agreements. The government has acceded to a request to continue paying their rentals. They will leave February next year provided I do not sell the houses, which is unlikely,” Dixon-Warren said.
The lease agreements were signed on February 8. Dixon-Warren noted that the former Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) in Francistown have also been offered houses in Selebi Phikwe.
TNMC is a subsidiary of the BCL group. The former TNMC employees were recently ordered to vacate the mine houses after they were sold to the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) recently. The houses were sold as part of a strategy to raise funds for the administration of the liquidation.
“The government has indicated that since the houses have been sold to BDF former TNMC employees can alternatively stay in Selebi Phikwe where there are vacant houses. However, the difficulty is that it is not easy for them to relocate because they have commitments. Some of them have children who are still going to school in Francistown hence find it difficult to relocate,” he said.
In Selebi Phikwe nearly 4,000 employees at BCL investment lost their jobs when the BCL group was liquidated in October 2016. At TNMC around 700 employees were left jobless following the sudden liquidation of the BCL group.
Since then, the former BCL group employees have been struggling to pay their basic needs such as rent. The government has also been paying school fees for some children of former BCL group employees.