Botswana: Govt Honours Veterans

Francistown — Click to see more pictures

A major road, airport and sports facility in Francistown were on October 11 re-named after veteran political leaders who played a crucial role in the evolution of the modern Botswana.

Thapama interchange was named Kenneth Nkhwa Interchange, Francistown International Airport became Phillip Matante International Airport while Francistown Sports Complex was re-named Obed Itani Chilume Stadium.

The President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, said this gesture was testament of the trio's dedication and sacrifices they made in service of the country.

Speaking during re-naming and official opening of the international airport, President Masisi said the veteran politicians put decades of their lives serving the country, hence the decision to recognise them.

He noted that the trio spent years helping the country to build Africa's beacon of democracy.

Messrs Matante and Nkhwa, he explained, were the first of the three opposition members who made it into the first parliament after independence in 1965 under the Botswana People's Party.

He said Mr Chilume was one of the youngest legislators during the first parliament. He also contributed, as a cabinet minister, in the establishment of district councils.

President Masisi also explained that the occasion was an affirmation of the key role that transport played as a key driver of economic development.

The country, he highlighted, needed top end transport facilities in order to be able to compete effectively with other countries.

Francistown, the President said, was a gateway to regional markets in the north, noting that it had been served well by geography.

"The potential for growth in this country is northwards and with the completion of the Kazungula Bridge and one stop border post, we will be able to realise the ideals of Vision 2036," Presdient Masisi highlighted.

The interchange, he added, would ease congestion within the city, thus leading to efficiency in the conduct of business.

However, the President said government was aware of the challenges that still existed due to the high volume of trucks that passed through Francistown.

To this end, he said there was a tender for the Mandunyane-Mathangwane by-pass which would assist in easing traffic for trucks bound for Kazungula and beyond.

With regards to the sports complex, Dr Masisi explained that it was built to support mass participation and to improve elite sport in the country.

The venue, the President mentioned, had turned out to be a fan favourite.

For her part, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Ms Dorcas Makgato, said Francistown was strategic because it connected the country to the trade corridor in the north.

She highlighted that the city was also a transport hub, hence fitting to have both the airport and the interchange to facilitate the movement of goods and people.

The re-naming of the airport, interchange and sports complex, Ms Makgato highlighted, was an acknowledgement and a reminder of how far the country had come and an affirmation of the importance of the infrastructure projects to the city's economy.

The city's mayor, Ms Sylvia Muzila, applauded government for re-naming the facilities and honouring the country's founding fathers.

"This is a thank you to our elders who served with distinction and dedication during the country's infancy. It also means a renewed commitment for us to utilize the facilities, put them to good use and generate the much needed jobs," she said.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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