The President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama yesterday officially opened the Francistown/Tonota dual carriageway and Thapama Interchange.
The Thapama Interchange is part of the 30km Francistown-Tonota Rehabilitation Project, whose aim is to address issues of traffic flow and improve Francistown’s socio-economic aspect. On that basis; the interchange, the first of its kind in Botswana, is regarded as a historic landmark. Both the Tonota-Francistown Thapama road projects were fully funded by the government to the tune of just below P1-billion. The project started in October 2012 and is expected to improve Francistown’s transport system by substantially reducing congestion as well as fuel emissions.
Speaking at the event, President Khama said;
“The junction has been designed to reduce maintenance costs and travelling time by allowing the free flow of traffic. We need such interventions, not only to promote efficiency but also to, among others, address the growing phenomenon of rising traffic volumes on our roads.
Last year alone an additional 53,218 vehicles were registered, bringing the total number registered in the country to 715,169. This year so far from January, an additional 8664 has been registered. Traffic volumes are further compounded by heavy trucks transporting goods from countries to the south and north of our country.”
The Thapama interchange, popularly known as the Spaghetti by Francistown residents, has improved the city’s landscape and pedestrian safety.
“As Batswana and as users, let us all be grateful for the completion of this project. It will yield great benefits, notably free flow of traffic, a reduction in roads user costs and reduced travelling time between Tonota and Francistown. The easing of traffic flow will directly contribute to the increase in business and employment opportunities for Francistown, Tonota communities and the country at large.”- President Khama.
The project also included the upgrading of bridges and access roads. Work on the interchange started in March 2013 and was handed over in 2016. It has improved the North-South trade corridor between Martins Drift border post and Kazungula. It also plays a significant role in facilitating the flow of commercial vehicles, especially freight companies transporting goods and services from Southern Africa to the rest of Africa.
It’s fantastic to learn that the spaghetti project has finally been completed. Francistown is renowned for hideous, bumper-to-bumper traffic jams, something that the new structure should address. There’ve been times when I’ve personally got caught up in the traffic jam en route to Maun and it can be a nightmare to get out of the city and back on the road again. I can only hope the hard to please Francistowners are happy with the final product because this time last year it came to light that they were up in arms over what they termed was not so much spaghetti than macaroni.
Much to Batswana’s amusement, Francistowners took to social media in their droves to protest and give their penny’s worth on the project. But while the new interchange may not be up to the standard of say UK roads, I think it’s far better than nothing. Francistown residents need to come and see the death traps that are Gaborone roads; all riddled with shocking pothole after pothole! I’ve recently graduated from being a public transport user to a driver and my eyes have been opened to the appalling state of our roads in Gaborone; just shocking! Don’t even get me started on the fact that we have to contend with having to share the same lanes with heavy-duty trucks on a daily basis, probably the same trucks that put the holes in the roads. But that’s another story for another day.
Reference: BOPA, BWGovernment Facebook page