Gaborone is a very young city, dating back as early as early as 1966 when it was first developed as a Capital city for the newly independent Botswana from the British Protectorate. Before this the administrative centre for the colony had been based from Mafikeng which is now part of South Africa.
The centre of the city was constructed in three years, including Assembly buildings, government offices, a power station, a hospital, schools, a radio station, a telephone exchange, police stations, a post office, and more than 1,000 houses. The basic infrastructure was in place for Independence Day on 30 September 1966.
The city is locked on all sides by different land usage (illustrated on the below zones) which renders it very difficult for further outward growth.
Government Enclave, Parliament and Ministerial Buildings
Mmokolodi Game Reserve and Kgale Hills
The city is locked on all sides by different land usage (illustrated on the below zones) which renders it very difficult for further outward growth. Tribal owned land to the east of the Batlokwa people means the city can either assimilate this unto its suburban sprawls as is the case to the west (01) which is a suburban village of Mogoditshane now virtually part of the city. The city’s water supply, Gaborone dam (04), once outside the city is now side by side with the newest industrial units. The worst of the growth on this side will soon see the dam inside the City. Increasing the ever likelihood of flooding risks.
Suburban City Growth Pattern
The city’s growth pattern is based on a rural growth model/ or suburban settlement pattern; where everyone gets a plot of land, which they then fence and build a bungalow house within. Terraced housing or developments are very limited and even those are confined within walled private development plots.
This type of planning and building is not only space consuming but bad for infrastructure planning. The once traffic free city is now jammed with traffic movement of people just getting from one side of the city to the other. The roads are hemmed in within privately walled residential units, making expansion of roads impossible. Provision of services, especially water, electricity, sewage and telephone infrastructure is an expensive measure because of the unnecessary wide spread location of houses.
The city has less than half a million people (230 000 est.) with an average density of not more than 1101 sqkm per person. Compare this to say 2500 people per square kilometre for London or 2,050persons per square kilometre in New York. This comparison of course is with far developed and populated places but eventually Gaborone city will grow and have to be redeveloped and planned for a better use of space and that would be a very expensive task.
The rapid growth of the government buildings and the increase in ministries has seen the once spacious enclave crowding with low rise developments with little or no public spaces. Where the green spaces do exists in this area they often are fenced in and out of bounds to the public.
The only truly open and public space probably in the whole of the city is the main mall , where open market stalls and public sitting areas makes this space the most successful. In my next blog I will focus on its lifestyle.
The natural evolution layout of a ghetto settlement
On the outskirts of the city to the south, along the railway line lies the city’s largest ghetto settlement called Bontleng (see fig below). Which has dual meaning in setswana, one meaning; ‘on the outside’ or ‘of beauty’.
Here the city planners have largely stayed away leaving the settlement pattern to evolve organically. The result is actually something better in terms of space organization and overall residential density per hectare compared to the suburban allotted plots. The living conditions are not at all ideal and the sanitary conditions need desperate improvement but what the settlement shows is an almost seamless way of roads and housing layout that utilizes space better and less rigidity based on grid planning.
Other social, security and heath issues of course exists and I will reveal these on my later blogs but there are lessons to be learnt on the natural way the settlement evolved.Other social, security and heath issues of course exists and I will reveal these on my later blogs but there are lessons to be learnt on the natural way the settlement evolved.
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