A report submitted by structural engineers has confirmed that Kamuzu Stadium in Malawiâ€™s commercial city, Blantyre, is in bad shape and would be a recipe for disaster to continue hosting football matches on it.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports has since officially closed the stadium pending renovations.
According to a press statement from the ministry, signed by deputy Principal Secretary Justin Saidi, the decision has been arrived at following results and recommendations of the assessment of spectatorsâ€™ stands by structural engineers, which has exposed failure on some of them.
â€œThe ministry, therefore, wishes to advise all stakeholders that no activities will be held at the stadium until renovations are done.Â
â€œDuring this period, all international football matches will be played at Civo Stadium. At the moment, Civo Stadium is undergoing renovations to ensure that it can effectively host international football matches,â€ further reads the statement.
In an interview on Sunday, Saidi said two of the stands that are traditionally occupied by Big Bullets and Wanderers fans are in bad shape.
â€œAccording to the report, some parts are in bad shape and they are in urgent need of attention,â€ said Saidi, but he could not be drawn to comment on when the renovations will start.
â€œWe are seeking technical advice from the experts and we will come out soon to announce the plans on the way forward.â€
However, an inside source revealed that, according to the findings by the structural engineers, two of the stands need a complete overhaul.
â€œThe engineers stated that the stands that are occupied by Bullets and Wanderers fans are depleting and there is an urgent need for an overhaul,â€ said the source.
â€˜Impact of closure adverse on Blantyre teamsâ€™
Meanwhile, some Blantyre-based teams have described the development as a major setback.
Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda and his Bullets counterpart Higger Mkandawire said teams have already started feeling the impact of the closure of the stadium.
â€œPlaying outside Blantyre escalates our expenses. It also deprives us of revenue as all stadia out of Blantyre have smaller capacity. Further to that, it also deprives us of the morale and vocal support from our nyerere fans.
â€œHowever, be that as it may, safety of the fans is paramount,â€ said Kanyenda.
He suggested that in view of the development, government should reconsider its decision to construct the Chinese-funded stadium in Lilongwe.
â€œKamuzu [Stadium] is an accident waiting to happen, they should demolish it and construct a state-of-the-art facility,â€ he said.
On his part, Mkandawire said his club is already spending a lot playing their games outside Blantyre.
â€œWe spend about K100 000 on fuel alone to travel to Balaka and we also lose a lot in revenue. We, therefore, hope that government will spare no time and effort to rehabilitate the stadium,â€ said Mkandawire.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said to ease the problem of stadia in Blantyre, the association is planning to open Chiwembe Ground and Surestrem Stadium [MDC Stadium] soon.
â€œAn artificial turf will be installed at Chiwembe Ground towards the end of the year or early next year and Fifa has already approved. Initially, we had plans to install the turf at Surestream Stadium, but following discussions with Surestream, it has been agreed that Surestrem Stadium will maintain a natural surface.
â€œOnce the renovations are through, Surestream Stadium will also be open for games during weekends as teams are spending a lot on travel and fans in Blantyre are also being denied the excitement of watching their teams play,â€ said Nyamilandu.