FRANCISTOWN: Thirteen years after it was completed, the multimillion Pula Francistown Horticultural Market has never been used.
Built in 2001 at the tune of P2.6 million, the market, located just a stone throw away from the Francistown Central Business District (CBD), was mandated to facilitate marketing of horticultural products and to be the selling center for vendors who are currently crowding the CBD.
Quizzed on why the facility remains a white elephant so many years after it was completed, the Francistown City Council (FCC) Public Relations Officer, Joseph Wasubera, blamed informal sector traders for refusing to occupy it. According to Wasubera, the traders said the facility was not suitable for their business as it was built outside of the CBD and is far from their clients. “The traders contended that their businesses will be affected adversely if they were to move to the facility leaving the CBD where there is higher traffic of clients. So, that is why this facility remains unutilized,” highlighted Wasubera.
However, the FCC Spokesperson told Gazette Business that very soon the council will relocate the traders to the facility. “Currently, we are exploring avenues of relocating traders who sell horticultural products to the facility. You may be aware of the ongoing pavement of the CBD, this is being carried in order to separate informal traders. So after the completion of paving project in the CBD, all horticultural vendors will have moved to the market and those selling wares and other horticultural produce will remain in the CBD,” he stressed.
Recently, Member of Parliament for Francistown West Ignatious Moswaane asked a question in Parliament as to why the facility has remained unused so long after its completion. In response, the Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Fidelis Molao, told Parliament that an agent was engaged to run the market for two years but he later closed decrying lack of operational funds. Molao, however, said the market had now been offered the Botswana Horticultural Market to serve as its satellite market in the north.