Football Association of Malawi (Fam) rightly recommended that Kamuzu Stadium be closed because after conclusive assessment done in conjunction with the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) for all venues the stadium was declared unfit due to its dilapidated state, poor sanitary conditions and that the artificial turf has outlived its life-span.
But Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, Henry Mussa, reacted by saying that President Peter Mutharika has ordered that Kamuzu Stadium should not be closed and instead government should do some serious repairs.
He said the President has ordered that Kamuzu Stadium should continue hosting matches and not to close and that government shall remove the artificial turf and replace it with natural grass “so that within a month, matches can be played”.
Mussa further pledged that government shall strive to fix all the dilapidated structures that are in question.
I am suggesting that the stadium be closed, Fam president Walter Nyamilandu had said if they continue to use the venue, they would put players’ careers at risk due to the condition of the turf and that fans’ lives were also at risk because of the dilapidated structures.
Now we can breathe a huge sigh of relief that government has pledged to rehabilitate the stadium because as rightly said by Nyamilandu, the stadium is a death trap.
But for how long has the government pledged to seriously rehabilitate the stadium which was declared unfit for the fans by both Confederation of African Football (Caf) and the worlkd football governing body Fifa since 1996 after that epic World Cup qualifying match between the Flames and South Africa?
Many projects have started but stalled not even half way. The floodlights project was done and many millions went into it but up to now, they have been put to good use.
There are steel pylons to unfinished fence project that are so ugly as well as the demarcation to the terraces.
For any visitor to the stadium, one would immediately realise there is something wrong with the fans’ safety just by seeing the demarcation on the terraces.
What the Minister pledged that the artificial turf be removed and replaced by natural grass is very welcome but I wonder if indeed that can be sorted out “within a month”. If that can be done, then we will be the happiest people.
Mussa said architects will take a “fresh look” at the facility and then recommend the areas that need “urgent attention” and that plans to demolish the ailing structure to pave the way for construction of a new one as pledged by President Mutharika are still in the pipeline.
As they look at areas that need attention to, they should also focus on Kamuzu Stadium’s surrounding landscape. Many Malawians would agree with me that Kamuzu Stadium’s surrounding landscape is so ugly that one wouldn’t want their foreign visitor to take a walk around it.
It is strewn with filth which fans discard during matches and we all do not seem to care that we are eroding the stadium’s environment. Fans just discard anyhow packets of Chibuku beer, crisps, tambala nuts, ice pops drinks, biscuits packets, juice bottles, cans, you name it — wrongly saying there is a cleaner who would come after them.
The grass needs to be cut regularly and be maintained throughout. Before every match, there are vendors selling Chibuku and these notorious spirits called Midori, Win, Shooter and many more. Then there are hot food vendors strewn all over using makeshift fireplaces. The smoke that emanates from the stadium can at times be so annoying.
Maybe the government can construct proper structures where the food vendors can operate from by paying an operating fee. Fans need that food services and they need clean environment.
The government should also consider helping Hockey Association of Malawi (Ham) to realise their dream of having their own stadium. Let’s not just look at football because there are so many hockey enthusiastic youths who are always playing at what is known as the Upper Stadium.
Honestly speaking, we are looking forward to seeing earnest rehabilitation of Kamuzu Stadium as pledged by President Mutharika.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :