A member of the ACT Global crew installing a new artificial turf at Kamuzu Stadium says Malawi could have avoided spending about K367 million (500 000) on the turf if low-cost maintenance equipment was used to keep the fibres aligned and upright.
After removing the old turf, Leendert van der Greft, speaking in his own capacity, noted that the old turf was not necessarily worn out, but had compacted due to poor maintenance.
He said: “If you go over the field and also walk over the base, the rubber has been compacted. I would personally advise [government] to look for more equipment for periodical maintenance to avoid compaction.”
He said with proper maintenance, the turf could have been used for more years to come just like in other countries that had the turf installed alongside Malawi 11 years ago.
“If you look at the field [turf] it was installed in 2007. So, it’s been there for 11 years. The turf is not worn out. As for the white line, it’s something all manufacturers are aware of that it breaks easily.
“But if you look at the turf itself, with further maintenance, they could have played on it for a couple of years. In general, you see this in many countries. But I don’t see it here.
“They [other countries] go for basic maintenance equipment which is good for weekly maintenance. You see that you can still play on the turf by using simple tools that cost less than one percent of new turf.”
Some of the practices that experts advocate for long life of the artificial turfs include regularly brushing the grass in accordance with the amount of ‘traffic’ it gets, according to http:www.royalgrass.com.
They also advise against fire and hot items, debris, dirt, and dust that can accumulate on the turf. Spitting, urinating or any other waste also shortens the turf’s life span.
“As such, cleaning the turf on a regular basis is important. Use a lawn sweeper, garden vacuum, or leaf blower to clear the turf of fallen leaves and dirt,” reads the website further.
Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development director Jameson Ndalama said government will take heed of the experts advice once the turf is ready to be used.
He said: “However, it’s not only government’s responsibility to look after the facility. Government provides these facilities to its citizenry and it’s the duty of everyone to ensure they use the turf responsibility. We might be responsible for the maintenance of the turf, but most of the times such facilities are hit by vandalism.”
ACT Global offered government the Xtreme Turf DX60 artificial turf at $499 520 last year, but installation was delayed due to the rainy season.
The installation is expected to conclude in three weeks, but Ndalama said re-opening of the facility will depend on completion of renovation of other facilities at the stadium. n