The cloud of uncertainty that surrounded the site for the construction of a proposed new stadium in Blantyre has been cleared following the approval of Njamba Freedom Park.
In December last year, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Grace Chiumia said that one of the reasons delaying the project was a concern raised by some quarters that the site was water-logged.
But the ministry’s Principal Secretary (PS) Joseph Mwandidya yesterday said the issue has been dealt with and the stadium will be constructed at the site.
“As we are talking, we have agreed with Blantyre City Council, Malawi Housing Corporation and Department of Lands that the project can go ahead at the proposed site.
“In determining a site, we also look at the catchment area and location because Fifa rules require that it should not be built far from an airport, hospital and a good hotel,” he said.
However, the PS said the stadium is still in the design stage and could not be drawn to comment on when the actual construction will start.
He said: “We need to look at first things first and once a contractor is identified, then we can say when it will start and how long it may take. But we want it to be slightly bigger than the Bingu National Stadium.”
Mwandidya also said funds for the construction of the facility will come from government.
“For now, we are looking at government funding the project, but the possibility of courting other partners cannot be ruled out,” he said.
President Peter Mutharika promised the construction of a new stadium in the commercial city when he campaigned for presidency prior to the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, but the project is yet to start with only three months remaining on his five-year tenure of office.
In November last year, former sports minister Francis Kasaila told Weekend Nation that government was yet to find resources for the project.
“If the resources are found tomorrow, then we have no reason not to start the work. If we cannot, then we will wait until Treasury tells us when the resources are available,” he said.
In the 2018/19 National Budget, the new stadium, which is projected to cost about K110 billion, was allocated K500 million for designs.
In the previous budget, it was allocated K1.5 billion for designs and start-up work, but Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Davies Saddo told The Nation in June last year that part of it was diverted towards the rehabilitation of Kamuzu Stadium.