* Bridge will showcase design rich ecology of the city * Commercial, recreational facilities will be developed along the river * Design completed, FCC negotiate with plot owners

Francistown residents whose properties are close to the old bridge will soon be moved in order to pave way for the construction of the modern and iconic bridge over the Tati River, Botswana Guardian has been told.

Speaking in an interview, Francistown City Council (FCC), City Clerk Lopang Pule said the project entails construction of an iconic bridge intended “to showcase the rich ecology of the city to boost tourism and commerce”.

Pule said so far his Council is negotiating to relocate adjacent plot owners so that commercial and recreational facilities can be developed alongside the bridge. He confirmed that the design for the bridge has been completed and it is estimated to cost P37 million.

Pule said Council has completed the formulation of Informal Sector and Public Health bye-laws in June 2021. This is so because informal sector in the City was not adequately regulated due to old bye-laws leading to licensing requirements that conflicted with Public Health laws and zoning compliance.

He said that currently Car Wash guidelines, paid parking and advertising bye-laws are being formulated and this is in line with government’s initiative to develop and implement an informal sector strategy.

However, the threat and challenges to the plan to turn around the city is lack of funding for identified projects, low uptake by investors, slow project implementation by partners, high utility costs, the high dependency by beneficiaries of government funded income generating projects, poor stakeholder collaboration and lack of political will.

The city is exchanging ideas with some of its sister cities through a twinning partnerships with City of Genk in Belgium, Livingstone City Council in Zambia, which is one of the longest partnership which started decades ago, as well as City of Tai’an in China and City of Davenport in the United States of America.

Pule revealed that out of all the cities that the City of Francistown has twinned with, the most active arrangement is that of the City of Genk in Belgium. He said every year they have reciprocal visits. He said that attempts are being made to resuscitate twinning arrangements that they have with other cities.

He said the City of Francistown Council and the City of Genk agreed on a partnership to cooperate in various areas. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed and it stated that periodic reviews and a mid-term review were to be made to monitor progress in various areas.

“This agreement was signed in August 2014, the areas of cooperation included, exchange of information and experience in the field of social and community development in both cities.

“Exchange of expertise and experience in the field of health care and they were to explore opportunities for lecturers to partner on training for Bachelor and Masters Degree program and research”.

The two were to also exchange knowledge and experience regarding youth development programs, promotion and facilitation of exchange in the field of education to enhance collaboration between education institutions in both cities.

Another area was to exchange expertise in specific areas of cooperation regarding the environment, for example, recycling of waste, environmental restoration and sensitisation.

They also wish to identify a framework in which private sector can participate in the city's development, as well as to facilitate communication for citizens from both cities through new means of communication such as social media to enhance the flow of information, and cooperation on other mutual agreed matters.