Every league derby or every cup final between arch rivals Mighty Wanderers and Big Bullets attracts huge patronage as it shall be when the two shall meet in the Carlsberg Cup final scheduled for Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
Taking that into consideration, stadium management, in conjunction with the Carlsberg Cup organisers should plan well for the big event to avoid a repeat of what happened during the Independence Day celebration on 6th July this year at the same venue when when eight people died following a stampede.
Government quickly instituted a task force to find out what happened and as findings faulted the police for firing tear gas, the law enforcers have defended themselves, saying their action saved lives.
The Police push the blame to the event’s organisers, saying they delayed in opening the gates that was scheduled to be opened at 6am but was done so at 10am. Having waited too long in the sun, the people scrambled to get inside and in the process the stampede ensued.
There is something wrong with the authorities when it comes to managing the stadium during crucial matches and it’s time something was done to bring sanity to this.
After the July 6 incident, some football fans were pictured urinating against the wall at the Bingu Stadium during the match between arch rivals Nyasa Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers in a TNM Super League match — an act that disgusted many people because the facility has a state of the art washrooms.
Reports that reached me in defence of why the fans might have behaved that way was that the washrooms were congested because management at the stadium open very few toilets against large patronage that such a match attracts.
This should stop forthwith. It is backward thinking. What is the motive of locking out some of the washrooms? Is it to protect the facility from vandalism? If so, why not deploy proper security to deter people from such acts or arrest them if caught?
Like I said two weeks ago, the designers of the stadium calculated, depending on the capacity of the place, how many washrooms should be provided. No matter how small the crowd is, the washrooms should all be opened so that they should be convinient at which ever part of the terraces the fans are.
Locking out the toilets is like taking off your new shoes because the path you are travelling is full of mud and you are afraid of soiling the shoes. Give the fans the best that was provided for them and for the cup final all the toilets should be opened.
What is needed is vigilant surveillance by the security personnel of the stadium in collaboration with the police. Like I said before, the security stewards and the police should not watch the match. That’s not their luxury but to be vigilant at the task they have been assigned to.
When the picture of the fans relieving themselves against the wall instead of using the washrooms went viral, someone suggested that maybe the authorities should have and implement bylaws that will get people prosecuted without discussions once caught.
He suggested that there should be cells to hold the culprits until they are bailed out on payment like what other countries practise in order to deter people from such disgusting behaviour.
It was also reported that some fans were seen trying to open the automatic taps and that others banged the vending machines without putting money in it to retrieve the drinks they wanted while others observed the washrooms have electric hand dyers but fans were seen just rubbing their hands against their clothes after washing their hands.
Before every match and at halftime, starting with the Carlsberg Cup final, the fans should be civic educated on how to use the washrooms facilities and forewarned of the consequences once caught abusing them. Those caught should be paraded to shame them.
And open the gates in good time and the organisers — Football Association of Malawi (Fam) — should intensify the excellent system they deployed of advance ticketing through mobile sercice providers TNM and Airtel as well as through selected banks. This system is very good and will reduce congestion at the gates
Though the Police justified their action of firing tear gas during the July 6 stampede, saying it saved more lives, they should be admonished that that is not on. The Police report also faults the law enforcers because the deployed team lacked proper equipment to manage the numbers and that no back up team was called to come and assist.
It shows lack of seriousness on the part of the police. They should have sensed danger when the crowd was accumulating and should have called for back up immediately to control the people before the gates were opened.
The Police should have used their authority to contact whoever was responsible, whether it was a minister or whoever, to ask for permission to open the gates when it was obvious that the crowd was accumulating.
So, Fam should lead the whole process to make sure what happened on July 6 should not happen again. And don’t allow fans to relieve themselves against the wall just because the washrooms are congested since others have been locked out.
Give the access to the state of the art facilities that were built for them and civic educate them on their use through public address system and visible posters in each of washrooms.