Government and contractors responsible for Kamuzu Stadium renovations in Blantyre have set July 30 as a deadline to have the works completed and hand over the facility to the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development.
This follows a visit to the stadium by the ministry’s director of sports Jameson Ndalama yesterday which lasted over an hour.
Ndalama, who was accompanied by Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) executive secretary George Jana, told The Nation in an interview yesterday that he was making a follow up on the project because it has taken longer than anticipated.
“I am here to follow up on the progress made so far and which areas are remaining. This is not an official visit, it is internal,” Ndalama said.
His visit came in the wake of concerns on the delay to reopen the stadium when the process to install the artificial turf was completed a fortnight ago.
After the inspection, Ndalama was overheard asking a representative of the contractor, Pobe Construction, on when the facility would be handed over, to which the contractor’s representative said: “To be on the safe side, I would say two weeks.”
The contractor, who refused to grant The Nation an interview, told Ndalama that 90 percent of the work had been completed.
“What is remaining is the toilet behind the commentary box and completing the installation of water pipes which should not take long,” he said.
Apart from installing a new turf, the other major works were rehabilitating covered stands, dressing rooms, toilets, drainage system, painting, erecting a new perimeter fence as well as a tunnel from the dressing room to the pitch.
When he inspected the stadium in January this year, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila projected that the renovations would be completed by March, but the time-frame was later extended to May and then June.
Be Forward Wanderers vice-general secretary Chulu Mkangama said the delay to reopen stadium continues to affect them financially.
“It has affected us in two ways. First, in terms of revenue, we make more money playing at Kamuzu Stadium than in Balaka because we have a huge fan base in Blantyre.
“In cost terms, we are also spending a lot because when we are playing at Kamuzu Stadium we spend about K10 000 on fuel while in Balaka we have to spend more on fuel, food and sometimes accommodation. So, government should help us by expediting the process,” he said.
A Nyasa Big Bullets fan Rodrick Walesi said he has not watched his team play this season because he cannot afford to travel outside Blantyre.
“I can afford to pay K1 000 to watch the team play in Blantyre, but it is difficult for me to raise something like K2 000 or more to watch it play in Mulanje or Nchalo,” he said.