Most tourists will only know of Palapye as a destination that they might drive through en route to their safari destination in Botswana, but recent years have seen this village flourish. Located in Botswana’s central district, about halfway between Francistown and Gaborone on one of Southern Africa’s principal north-south road and rail routes, Palapye was said to be the fastest-growing village in Africa a few years ago. Today, with the building of Botswana’s second university supposed to be taking place here, Palyape only continues to experience growth.
Palapye might soon be home to Botswana’s second university
For over a decade now, rumours have spread that Botswana’s second university will be built in Palapye. The project was finally accepted in 2004 and construction of the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) began at the end of last year. The university, which will help the University of Botswana in Gaborone meet the demand for an increasingly large number of students, has completed its first phase of construction.
There is, however, worry that the university won’t be built as it was envisaged years ago. The Botswana government has said recently that they want to scale down BIUST and has appointed a task team to review the project to come up with recommendations for an affordable facility in Botswana’s current financial climate. The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) will launch a campaign, ‘Save BIUST, Save our Youth’ in the coming weeks in order to pressure the government to establish BIUST as it was originally envisaged.
The BCP has said that phase two of construction does not require government money and that all they is need Cabinet approval so that they can request the four pre-qualified consortia to submit proposals through tender. BCP secretary general, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, said that many people have invested in various kinds of businesses in the hope that the university will be set up there soon. CEO of a Palapye hotel and owner of a guest house in the heart of Palapye, Gloria Orufheng, said that she is hopeful that the university will bring success to her businesses but that, if the government does dump the BIUST project, the town will continue to grow, with or without the second university.
Palapye residents want town status
The growth of Palapye has led to residents desiring that the village is recognised as a town. The award of the second university, the mushrooming of lodges, the expansion of the Morupule Colliery (the only coal mine in the country), the building of a multi-million Pula police station and other construction has led to development in infrastructure and increased economic activities. This, added to already established places of interest, presents great tourism potential for Palapye.
Palapye Member of Parliament, Master Goya, is one of those who has voiced his support of the village being awarded town status because of its strategic location which can alleviate congestion in Francistown and Gaborone and its suitability as an industrial hub for science, technology, research and agricultural studies.
The developments in Palapye, especially the expansion of the coal mine and construction of the university, will bring huge benefits to Palapye and the surrounding villages in terms of business opportunities and development.
Orufheng said that the building of the university will create more job opportunities for the people of Palapye. “We are looking forward to creating employment opportunities for the Palapye people and that is why our aim is to have 90% of the Palapye population employed in this hotel,” she said.
Where to go when you’re in Palapye
If you’re on a safari holiday in Botswana, it’s very possible that you will come into contact with Palapye en route to one of the country’s famous game parks. Palapye is also close to several tourist attractions which are worth visiting. These include the Khama Rhino Sanctuary where one can see the endangered black and white rhino, the ancient Tswapong Hills, the beautiful Moremi Gorge, and the remains of Phalatswe or Old Palapye, which was once the capital of the Bamangwato people.