A business park in Roma

A business park in Roma

ROMA-THE proposed park for the Roma Valley will be more than just an industrial park.
This is according to Associate Professor Resetselemang Leduka, who teaches Urban and Regional Planning at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).
He leads the Town Planning component of the project.

“It will be a business park,” he says.
It will have a mix of manufacturing, services, recreation and shopping outlets.
Along with his fellow lecturers, Molapo Ntaote and Ntahane Takalimane, Professor Leduka has been mandated to create a zoning plan design for Lesotho’s first locally owned, knowledge based and innovation driven industrial park that will make history in Africa.

In the park, there will be factories of all kinds, interspersed with lavish green spaces to enhance the beauty of the park and for passive and active recreation.
There will be a shopping mall and ample space dedicated to street enterprises.

The proposed road network incorporates interesting, if not novel, designs to enable freer through-traffic and fewer accidents, and there will be trees, flowers and lawns.
Some industrial parks are often a boring conglomerate of metal structures with humming machines inside.
This one, he says, will be a living and an inviting industrial park.
“We had to think outside the box precisely because this is a unique intervention and the place is a potential tourist attraction,” he says.

The Industrial Park plan starts here.
Ideas are born and tested at the NUL laboratories.
If they show business potential, they are tested at the NUL Innovation Hub as businesses.
If they succeed in the markets during this pilot project, they enter the NUL-LNDC Industrial Park for mass production, a park that will exist, thanks to the on-going feasibility studies funded by the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC).

When we introduced the park as an idea months ago, you were told that the businesses there will produce electronic products, manufacturing machines, food, clothing, cosmetics, furniture and many more.
All of these things need factories.
So the park is designed to host these and many other factories.

“From the start, it was not a question of whether the site had to be at the Roma Valley or not, it was the question of where in the Roma Valley it would be,” Professor Leduka says.
The idea of an industrial hub close to the university is based on the Stanford University’s Silicon Valley model where the university changes industry and industry changes the university.

His team studied a number of places within the valley and settled for one of them.
Some of the issues considered were closeness to the university, closeness to the main road and to the associated water and electricity infrastructure.
One place which was very close to the university was abandoned because of extensive relocation of property that would have to be done.

It would also be very costly to create a road network away from the major road for industrial vehicles, and to pipe water to the park.
But then, a place was noted which offered the best of both worlds.
Although slightly far from the campus, it was still close enough.

It is also close to the main road, has high voltage electricity lines passing through and most notably, it has a humongous pipe carrying volumes of water from Metolong dam to Roma.
Add to the fact that the place is on a flatland which reduces the need for too much earthworks and the equation is solved.

The place is literally readymade for the industrial park.
“We settled for this point within the Valley,” the Professor says.
Here are some of the features that make the design interesting.
Visit your average industrial park during weekends or holidays and you will be forgiven for thinking it was a ghost town — no people in there.

And the Prof explains why: “Such parks were just not designed with people in mind.”
In this park, there will be a shopping centre.
People will come here, not just as workers but also as buyers.
From factory shops to your average shopping mall and eateries, the place is meant to be partly a regional hub of buying and selling that will lighten a load from the traffic-besieged Maseru.

The park will be pierced through by the main highway road from Maseru to Semonkong.
That means branching local roads might affect the flow of traffic.
“So we had to provide a solution that has never been tried in Lesotho before,” Professor Leduka says, adding: “We designed a turbo roundabout (traffic circle).”

The turbo roundabout is designed such that it reduces points where cars are likely to cause accidents on two-lane four-legged traffic circle, from 24 conflict points in normal circles to just 14 in this one.
It also improves traffic flow significantly.
For comfort, the land alongside the river is left open for green space and an amusement park where visitors and workers can unwind.

There is also enough space within the park for trees, flowers and plants.
And there is ample space for street vendors, which creates a space friendly for small businesses to thrive.
“We will also add park-specific Design Guides (also the first in Lesotho) derived from local planning standards and international best practices to guide architects and engineers for all buildings and landscaping within the park,” he says.
“This is to create and maintain an environment that is inviting and fit for business at all times.”

Own Correspondent

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