Francistown’s old market lease now a hot potato
The relocation of traders plying their business at Francistown’s old market along Blue Jacket Street has stalled once again after an outcry that the 40-year lease with a private property developer is scandalous.
Francistown councillors have stopped the local authority in their tracks and instructed the council to reduce the lease period to 25 years.
Not only have the councillors called the 40-year lease ridiculous, but the rental charges of a paltry P6.50 per square metrehave also been called into question.
A copy of the lease which this publication has in its possession reveals the city of Francistown signed the four-decade lease with Equality Properties in September 2004. Equality is a privately-owned property company whose managing director is Norman Moleele.
The old market (one of the city’s best known landmarks), is set to be stripped down in favour of a more modern two-storey multi-functional commercial and business centre which Equality Properties would construct.
However, development of the council property has dragged for ten years because the council could not produce the necessary documents which the property developer needed to acquire a building permit.
According to impeccable sources in the council’s finance committee, “the council records are a shambles. The council did not know who owned the market or have accurate records to refer to concerning the size of the plot and the plot number.”
The revamping of the old market has been a hot potato in past council meetings, with councillors bent on ensuring council doesn’t lose out on valuable income.
“If we allow that 40-year lease to go through, the property developer will amass enormous wealth. In those 40 years they will have long-finished paying off the financiers, and have made a tenfold profit,” said one of the councillors who preferred anonymity.
“None of us will be alive to remember that the property belongs to the council. Even the rental charges of P6.50 are way too low. The last time I checked the market rates they were three times more than that.”
While the market is being revamped, the 40 traders will be given temporary shelter elsewhere in the city before moving back to the new complex.
“We do acknowledge our market is run down and the buildings are old, considering that the market is located in the centre of the city. We simply want to give the market a facelift, to improve it. Development of the market will begin once we are able to conclude all the modalities and logistics,” commentedJoseph Modise Wasebura, Senior Public relations Officer for the City of Francistown council.
Over the years the market which has 55 stalls has become an eyesore, as its drainage system constantly bursts spilling dirty water into the adjacent parking lot which looks bad an smells even worse.
Wasebura said that the current traders will be relocated to spaces throughout Francistown, wherever the council can fit them in.
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