JB lays foundation stone for Malawi’s new Olympic stadium

President Joyce Banda today, July 11, 2012 laid a foundation stone for the   Malawi National Sports Stadium in Lilongwe’s Area 48 to mark the launch of the construction project.

Olympic standard structure had been taken away from the capital and moved to the commercial city of Blantyre by the previous Democratic Progressive Movement (DPP) administration and relocated back to Lilongwe by the Banda administration.

Following the launch, the project is expected to commence after completion of the Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) in Thyolo. Must meant for the central region now stands side by side with late  Mutharika’s multi-million kwacha house on his Ndata Farm in the area of Kamoto Village in Thyolo.

The Must project, according to Malawi and Chinese government officials will be completed before the end of this year.

The way National Stadium will look in Lilongwe

Relocation

Addressing the large crowd that came to witness the occasion on the project site in Area 48, which is between Area 47 and Area 49, the President expressed dismay at the previous government’s decision to move the project from Lilongwe to Blantyre.

“I don’t know what Honourable Sidick Mia (Transport and Public Infrastructure Minister) and his colleagues were thinking,” said Banda, attracting laughter from the podium, where Mia and other
cabinet Ministers were sitting.

Banda explained that she relocated the project to Lilongwe because this is the capital city of Malawi and it is centrally located to provide easy access for people from all parts of Malawi. The President
also explained that Blantyre already has the giant Kamuzu Stadium with an almost similar capacity to the proposed seats for the new stadium.

The new stadium will have a sitting capacity of 40,500 spectators.

“I was part of the delegation that went to China to discuss diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and I know exactly where this stadium was supposed to be. This (Stadium Project) and a University Project taking place elsewhere were for the people of Lilongwe,” said Banda, referring to the project in Thyolo.

The President directed Escom to connect power to the project site as well as the surrounding areas.

Mia, who was in the system that took away the project from Lilongwe to Blantyre, hailed President Banda for her ‘bold decision to take the project back to Lilongwe, where it belongs.’

China connection

Speaking earlier, Chinese Ambassador Pan Hejun hailed the cordial and bilateral relations existing between Malawi and the People’s Republic of China.

He pledged that the project would be delivered within the stipulated time of two years and expressed hope that the Chinese national soccer side would be invited to play the Flames at the
stadium after completion.

China, through its Export-Import Bank, will provide a $65-million loan to Malawi towards construction of the stadium.

As an Olympic standard stadium, it will have specialised facilities such as synthetic running track, conference rooms, television circuit, shopping and exhibition rooms, press galleries, treatment rooms, car park and bathrooms.

Wang Junchao, director of the political section at the Chinese embassy in Malawi, says Chinese firm Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group (Sogecoa) has been appointed contractor for the project.

“Sogecoa is a qualified company that has rich experience in constructing stadiums in Africa, having constructed stadiums in Zambia, Mozambique and Togo,” says Wang.

He explains that the design of the stadium will be similar to that of the Ndola stadium, in Zambia.

China is financing a number of construction projects in Malawi, including construction of the 101km Karonga–Chitipa road and the construction of a five-star hotel and conference centre in Lilongwe.

Project Profile

Total occupancy area of Stadium: 25.6 hectares.

Area to be covered by Stadium: 5.31 hectares.

Total building area: 46650 square metres.

Number of seats: 40,500

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