Botswana: Govt Spends P36m On Gerald Estates Streetlights

TEBOGO MMOLAWA

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Government through the Francistown City Council has spent P36 million pula to install streetlights at Gerald Estates. Moselewapula ward councillor, Reuben Kethoilwe told The Patriot on Sunday that the project started at Block 5 and 6 at new residential plots in Gerald Estates.

"After the project to install street lights at Block 5 and 6 was completed, about P9 million was left unutilized. I then made a proposal during our full council meeting that the remaining funds should be used to install street lights at old Moselewapula plots and my proposal was acceded to," Kethoilwe pointed out. He stated that currently the contractor is still on site to install and monitor the streetlights at the old plots and the project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

According to Kethoilwe, criminal activities have been on the rise at Gerald Estates due to lack of street lights in some parts of the low income location. "In some parts of Gerald Estates, people were living in fear as they were normally attacked by criminals at night and robbed of their valuables such as cell phones and their hard earned cash. We were also experiencing the proliferation of house breaking and burglary cases in old Moselewapula residential plots," Kethoilwe divulged. Kethoilwe who was elected during a by election after the demise of BDP councillor, Lechedzani Modenga highlighted that the street lights will help to curb such criminal activities as they will increase visibility at night.

Gerald Estates was established in 2001 as a promised land for the squatters of Somerset West, Matjimenyenga, Kgaphamadi and Coloured locations in Francistown. It was meant to give Francistown a facelift by eliminating the problem of squatters in the second city. The dream of squatters was fulfilled as they were afforded decent SHHA houses from the then dilapidated and dehumanizing shacks. To address the problem permanently, government purchased a farm (Gerald Estates) to curb land shortage and provided them with land to build their dream homes.

The location currently boosts of the state of the art Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE) which was opened in 2008. The marvellous institute of higher learning was built with financial assistance from European Union (EU) and Botswana government. The institution bears an amazing architecture design that leaves many travellers in awe because of its beauty.

Currently the residents of Gerald are bitterly complaining about lack of shopping complex. Commercial and industrial plots have already been allocated but the owners are failing to develop their property. Residents are forced to commute for about 10 kilometres to the city centre to buy basic necessities such as groceries.

Superintendent Edward Leposo admitted that since the street lights were installed at Gerald Estates criminal acts have drastically reduced. "Even though I do not have statistics now but crime has tremendously reduced at Gerald since the beginning of this years thanks to the installed street lights. The lights have increased visibility at night," Leposo said.

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