The new artificial turf to be installed at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre is scheduled to arrive in the country this Saturday from Beira, Mozambique.
This follows government’s payment of the remaining K100 million to suppliers, ACT Global Limited.
Mozambican shipping authorities gave Malawi a 60-day ultimatum starting from December 7 2017 to move the K400 million Astroturf from Beira Port or risk losing it through an auction.
However, Malawi could not get the equipment unless it finalised payment to the suppliers.
Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila said yesterday that the equipment is on its way to the country.
The minister said the development means Kamuzu Stadium would be ready for activities sometime next month because the absence of the synthetic turf was the main reason the facility was not opened for public use.
“The contractor, who is also the supplier, will need two weeks upon the arrival of the turf to do the installation. Of course, some other rehabilitation works at the stadium have, unfortunately, delayed to be completed,” he said.
“Hopefully, substantial amount of rehabilitation works would be done by February for the facility to be opened to the public because the turf was one of the main items remaining for the stadium to start hosting activities.”
The minister also said the other works being carried out for the stadium to be operational are renovation of toilets, improvement of water services and rehabilitation of the stands, especially the VIP and the covered terraces.
He further said the dressing rooms have also been refurbished while the players’ tunnel is being worked on.
“But if we have the turf on the ground, then we would be able to open the facility as we continue with the other remaining works,” said Kasaila.
When asked why the rehabilitation works do not include the fortifying of the stands, considering that the main reason the stadium was closed was that some rickety stands posed a risk to spectators’ lives, he said the purpose of maintaining the stadium was not to make the facility strong, but usable as per Fifa standards.
“So far, we have repainted the usable sections of the stands because the main objective of the works is to give the commercial city a good venue for activities as we wait for the construction of the new stadium in Blantyre. If we re-enforce the stands, then it will mean we have no intentions of erecting a new stadium in the city,” said the minister.
The artificial turf is meant to replace the worn-out synthetic turf at Kamuzu Stadium and solve the match venue problems in the commercial city, where soccer fans are denied access to football action in the top flight league and national team engagements.
Soccer analyst George Kaudza Masina said it is good that government has lived up to its word.
“It should also be noted that the security of the players and the spectators as well need to be taken into account. As it stands, only the players’ security has been taken care of,” he said. n