Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises has warned that poor management of the multi-billion kwacha Bingu National Stadium (BNS) could kill its potential as a key revenue generator in sports industry.
Committee member Alex Meja, who usually speaks on behalf of the committee on sports matters, was reacting to failure by government to pay a K22 million electricity bill, forcing the facility to go nearly seven months without power.
When opened early last year by President Peter Mutharika, the stadium, which has got apartments that could be hired for businesses, was billed to become one of the commercial hubs in Lilongwe.
But its potential has been waning, analysts point out, because of theft and electricity and water cuts that have marred its first year of operation.
A visit to BNS revealed that a private gym and bar that are operating there are using generators.
In an interview yesterday, Meja said it was disappointing that a facility with such potential is being devalued because of lack of seriousness.
Said Meja: “There are a lot of questions regarding the failure to pay bills. Is it that there were no funds in the national budget for the running of the facility? Where is the money which the stadium is generating going?”
“All in all, it is heartbreaking that a stadium of such magnificence is not being cared for like this. It is also likely that the workers there are demotivated because they can’t operate properly without power.”
Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila told The Nation yesterday that the delay to clear the bill was caused by communication breakdown between the Reserve Bank of Malawi and Treasury.
“We have been trying to source funding from Treasury but the process was met by some funding clearance challenges. But now, I am told, the funds have been released and we will pay the bill very soon,” he said.
However, this is not the first time that the sports minister has promised that the bills would be paid ‘soon’.