Minister of Youth and Sports Uchizi Mkandawire says government cannot tell when construction of the long-awaited Blantyre Stadium will start as the project is a mere “wish that came out of the blues”.
The minister said on Wednesday during his familiarisation tour of sports establishments in the commercial city.
The project, which was expected to start in 2019, was part of former president Peter Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party campaign promise ahead of the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
It was allocated K1.5 billion for designs and construction works in the 2018/19 National Budget.
There were expectations that erection of the new state-of-the-art stadium, whose estimated cost four years ago was $100 million (over K100 billion at current forex exchange rate), would be a big relief for Blantyre-based TNM Super League outfits FCB Nyasa Bullets, Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and Mighty Tigers.
The elite football clubs heavily rely on Kamuzu Stadium, which was deemed unfit to host international matches by the world football governing body Fifa.
National football team matches are also hardly played in the commercial city due to lack of a standard and spacious stadium.
Said Mkandawire: “At present, that project is a mere wish that came out of the blues. There is no timeline for that stadium construction and the project does not exist in government’s programme.”
However, he said there is still need for a new state-of-the-art stadium in the commercial city to replace the Kamuzu Stadium.
The ministry’s director of sports Jameson Ndalama agreed with the minister that they will soon start consultations to determine how best to sort out the stadium scarcity in Blantyre.
“There is an option of demolishing the Kamuzu Stadium to pave the way for construction of the new facility or settling for Njamba, based on what feasibility study and environmental impact assessment will find.
“In spite of that, this will depend on funds availability,” he said.
Aside from the Blantyre Stadium project, Mkandawire said government is committed to completing some sports infrastructure projects in Blantyre, namely, the construction of Bullets and Wanderers stadia alongside the refurbishment of the BAT ground, which stalled due to funding challenges.