Congratulations are in order on your recent ascendancy to the Mayoral office. I wish you all good things and most importantly, as you will see below, I also wish you success in most if not all of the issues affecting our city.
Your Lordship, you assume the throne to this ‘not-so-great’ city of ours at a critical juncture, both in world economy and most importantly at a time when the city seems to be reaching a breaking point to complete disrepair. The problems that face this city are plenty and I hope that your Lordship you come with enough powers, mantle and a resolute leadership to effect change. Among many of this city’s problems, here are few systemic ones for you to ponder:
City Infrastructure and Services: Gaborone City is currently witnessing a deteriorating infrastructure and services across its whole networks. The City’s traffic lights; all but a few seem to either not function or most are permanently wrongly programmed to the reverse of traffic control. This has meant that our city police are stretched thinly to directing traffic rather than patrolling our streets and keeping people safe. Also the city’s roads are littered with potholes and some of these potholes are not only a nuisance but a hazard and danger to health and safety. City Council’s refuse collection record is abysmal and in other areas such as where I live, garbage trucks don’t even bother coming. Random dumping of rubbish in bushes and our backyards is rampant and if not checked, soon this city might have to contend with vermin control. One assumes that a fit-for-service City Council should be attending to all of these most basic tasks that people pay rates for.
Parking and Traffic congestion: Your Lordship, traffic in this city is at gridlock. For a city of less than two hundred thousand inhabitants (Lagos has over 7 million), somehow our roads are just not capably designed to keep traffic moving. Rush hour traffic is not only a frustration to businesses but I am sure it must have some health adverse effects too. The traffic scenario is also compounded by the fact that, in this day and age, our city still does not have a parking regulation policy. We probably again are the only capital city that has a free-for-all parking. The City Centre parking lots for example are completely inaccessible for most part of the day. I trust that this being the most critical and easiest to solve, you will make it your first Mayoral task in office.
Public Amenities, green spaces and Public Parks: You inherit a city which in all sense is not really a city per see because it still does not offer its inhabitants any quality urban lifestyle that is different from say that of peri-urban villages. It inexplicable why our city still does not have a public park (let’s not consider Tsholofelo Miniature Park) or why our city still does not have a public square? This city does not even provide his Lordship with some decent offices and civic centre. Your Lordship, a Civic Centre is in other parts of the world, the symbol and the synergy that binds an urban sense of place, the ‘home’ of CITY MAYOR.
Development of extension 2: Your Lordship, your office/council recently took upon itself to look at the redevelopment of Extension 2 area, which includes the Main Mall. They stated that they are to develop urban design guidelines as outlined the revised development plan. I have previously expressed my doubts about the capability of your office in undertaking this project of National importance. Failure in developing working guidelines for this area, which is the core of our heritage, has dire consequences. I still argue that the City Council alone does not have the really capacity nor expertise to make a success of this task. I encourage you your Lordship to urgently review this exercise and invite professionals to assist you with real urban design guidelines and principles that would make our city great. This task in particular your honour is and should be treated with the importance that it deserves and as such needs backing and support from all stake holders, especially the private sector. It will also take political will from the national government, steady leadership and vision to seriously deliver a complete renewal and urban regeneration strategy for this area. Your Lordship, the success of this project will in itself be a long lasting legacy, and also could have the potential to provide the necessary economic stimulus that our local businesses and built environment needs.
Other social issues that blight our city includes; high levels of crime, unsafe neighbourhoods, lack of affordable housing, deplorable public transport system, poor heath services, increasing homelessness and street children, unreliable electricity, occasional shortage of basic commodities such as milk, tomatoes and many more problems that, frankly speaking makes this city a little bit of joke when compared to other fully fledged metropolitan cities.
I sincerely trust you will read through my letter with open mindedness worthy of your office and set about working to deliver a liveable and enjoyable city we can all be proud of. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to read through my letter.
H. Killion Mokwete, ARB, RIBA Chartered Architect
Lecturer at University of Botswana, Department of Architecture and Planning
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