Vice President Saulos Chilima has hinted that government might go ahead opening the state-of-the-art Bingu National Stadium despite Ministry of Sports and Culture failing to secure a K500 million funding for completion of some facilities at the stadium.
Construction of the 40,500-seater stadium completed on November 30, 2015 but President Peter Mutharika is yet to perform the official opening of the facility due to failure by the Ministry of Sports to raise about K500 million for completion of some facilities, which were not covered in the construction agreement between Malawi government and Chinese construction firm Anhui Foreign Construction Company Limited.
Amongst the facilities the Ministry is expected to put in place include a sewer system, electricity, an MTL fibre cable and furniture. The stadium does also not have an evacuation system.
Presently, the stadium is using electricity power used for the construction, which is not enough for other functions requiring power including floodlights.
But speaking when he toured the stadium on Wednesday, Chilima felt the outstanding elements were very little to hamper the stadium opening.
“From what I have seen, the sewer system remains the crucial issue since there are over 800 toilets at the stadium. Once the sewer system has been installed, I think H.E can open the stadium. We should not be worried about playing football at night. In the state it is, the stadium can host a football match or any other activity during the day as long as the critical issue has been addressed.
“We can look at the other elements after opening the stadium,” said Chilima, who took over an hour inspecting the facilities and being briefed by Sports Ministry officials.
On safety of spectators, the Vice President admitted safety was of paramount importance and assured government would ensure there is maximum safety at the stadium. He gave an example of the 76,000-seater Old Trafford Stadium- home to English giants Manchester United, where he said all spectators can be evacuated within eight minutes in case of an emergency.
Sports Minister Grace ‘Obama’ Chiumia, who invited the Vice President to visit the stadium expressed optimism that the stadium would open soon.
“My wish is to see the stadium opened before July 6 but that all depends on the availability of funds at Treasury. The stadium could have been opened by now but there are other critical issues that government is addressing at the moment like the food shortage, shortage of drugs in our hospitals, the natural disasters and other economic problems that the country is experiencing.
“But I am hopeful that Treasury will find a way before the 2016-2017 budget is approved,” by Parliament,” she said.
Chiumia said there were few things which are needed to be finalised such as solar lights, Malawi Telecommunication Limited (MTL) cables and Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom) main cable need to be connected.
She said this will cost government about MK500 million, after the completion the stadium will be opened.
Chiumia said: “The construction of the sewer line will depend on the availability of the funds, if available it can be started as soon as they can be installed.
“As we all know that priority is sewer line, yes we have generators which can be used as electricity for a one day function. But there are issues which we need to sit down as a cabinet and discuss”.
She said government prioritises sports and the evidence of its commitment is the construction of the Bingu National Stadium and the support that it gives to the teams of the country.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :