Mozambique shipping authorities threaten to auction turf
Mozambican shipping authorities have given Malawi Government a 60-day ultimatum to move the artificial turf, expected to be installed at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, from Beira Port or they will auction it.
The turf is meant to replace the worn-out synthetic pitch at the closed Kamuzu Stadium, a development that might solve the problem of football match venues in the commercial city, where fans have been denied access to football action in the TNM Super League and national team engagements in the past year.
According to a communication from the Mozambique authorities, which The Nation has seen, there are now only 25 days remaining for Malawi Government to move the equipment.
The communication reads: “Please be advised that containers [carrying the turfs] will be auctioned if we fail to move [the cargo] within 60 days from the discharge date.
“Please keep the pressure for payment as boxes need to move as soon as possible to Malawi or the consignee [Malawi Government] will get some charges.”
According to a source from Mozambique, who asked for anonymity, Malawi is also required to pay cargo storage fees charged per day from the time the synthetic turf arrived at Beira Port on December 7. So far, the turf has been in Mozambique for 35 days.
“Government is expected to pay suppliers ACT Global Limited between K86 million [$120 000] and [$130 000] K93 million to be given a green light to take the equipment into Malawi. There are also some extra charges for storage,” said the source.
This means Malawi risks losing the equipment worth about K400 million if government fails to pay the supplier a balance of less than K100 million.
Soccer analyst George Kaudza Masina yesterday said it is unfortunate that the deal was not well coordinated.
“As it stands, the Sports Ministry has no choice but to dig deeper into their pockets to rescue this unfortunate situation. It should also be noted that these port charges are not in Malawi kwachas, but in United States dollars,” he said.
“This might result in getting the turf at double the price due to the landing costs. It is high time someone was held accountable on the way such transactions are handled. Otherwise, let the Treasury come to the rescue of the situation for the good of the game. With these unfortunate occurrences, it is better to resort to the idea of having natural grass at our stadia.”
Kaudza Masina added that it is also justifiable for ACT Global to demand the K93 million final payment as it might have been what is contained in the purchase or sale agreement.
But Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila yesterday said by last Friday, the Accountant General’s office had instructed the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) to cable the money to the supplier, “and our expectation is that by next week, the turf should be in Blantyre”.
On his part, RBM spokesperson Mbane Ngwira yesterday said: “Normally, we do not disclose information about our clients. My colleague from the Treasury could confirm. What I can say is to trust the honourable minister.” n