Transport and Public Infrastructure Minister Sidik Mia justified the decision on Thursday after the Chinese Ambassador Pan Hejun told the press in Lilongwe on Wednesday that the stadium project will be moved to Blantyre once the logistics are through.
Reports in other quarters suggest that government has already identified a site for the project near Soche Technical College in Limbe.
Hejun made the revelation about the project when responding to a question on when construction of the 40 000-seater stadium would start.
“Actually, we are discussing the venue now. Previously, the Malawi Government wanted it [the stadium] to be built in Lilongwe, but we have received information that they want it in Blantyre,” he said.
The ambassador also assured that once the logistics are finalised they will go ahead with the project “very quickly”.
However, Mia claimed that government never made a commitment on the site of the stadium.
The minister said it pleased President Bingu wa Mutharika to have the facility constructed in Blantyre because Lilongwe has already enjoyed a fair share of development projects from the Chinese.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports Alex Mseka also confirmed the change.
“I am aware of the development, but as for the other details, I will need to get back to you because I am not sure in what context the announcement [by the Chinese ambassador] was made. But the whole government machinery is aware,” said Mseka who refused to comment on the rationale of having the stadium in Blantyre where there is already another big stadium [Kamuzu Stadium].
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said the most important thing is to have the state-of-the-art-stadium because Kamuzu Stadium is old-fashioned.
“Fifa has expressed concern on its [Kamuzu Stadium] state and that is why every time we are playing an international game, the capacity is restricted. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a looming fear of security and fans,” he said.
Nyamilandu also said the construction of the new stadium will bring more revenue.
President Bingu wa Mutharika announced a K40 billion ($240m) aid package from China in 2008 that included the construction of the stadium, the Karonga-Chitipa Road and the Parliament building.
The Chinese have over the years built stadiums in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, among other African countries.