The K13.5 billion stadiums the Ministry of Local Government is constructing in Thyolo, Ntcheu and Mzimba have missed the completion deadline.
These projects were approved in the 2017/18 National Budget to help district councils generate income and provide entertainment to the public.
Construction of Thyolo Stadium was expected to be completed within 18 months from January 2018, meaning it was supposed to be ready by August this year while facilities in Ntcheu and Mzimba were scheduled for completion at least two months later.
Apart from a football pitch, some of the key components of the new stadia are basketball and netball courts and running tracks. The stadia will also have stands in all sides. However, such components are not available in other recently constructed stadia.
Asked why the projects have gone past the projected deadline, Minister of Local Government and Development Lingson Belekanyama attributed it to the change of governments following the fresh presidential election in May.
“The change of government somehow affected these projects as the national budget started in September after the one done by the previous government in May, was revised,” he said, adding the Zomba Stadium is also included in the project.
Belekanyama explained that the projects will delay because they are engaging contractors on payments for the works done so far.
“Procedurally, we have to pay them in accordance with the certificates of the architectural work that they have done so far. At present, we have a lot of certificates, including those of new houses for chiefs, which are supposed to be paid for,” the minister said.
“We will wait for the auditors to certify the works and give us a report before submitting the same to the Treasury for the release the funds. Then, we will engage the contractors to let us know when the projects will be completed.”
Ministry of Youth and Sports spokesperson Simon Mbvundula yesterday said he could not comment on the projects.
“The Local Government Ministry is the only responsible entity. As Sports Ministry, we only offer some technical assistance such as which side should the pitch face,” he said.
Ministry of Local Government spokesperson Anjoya Mwanza said construction of Thyolo Stadium is now at 50 percent while that of Ntcheu is at 90 percent. She could not give the percentage on Mzimba Stadium.
“The projects were affected by Covid-19 and funding. Aside from that, contractor for Thyolo Stadium asked for the extension of the deadline from August this year,” she said.
Thyolo and Ntcheu stadiums were expected to cost K4.6 billion each while the one for Mzimba was to consume K4.3 billion.
A few years ago, government constructed stadia in Karonga, Mulanje, Rumphi, Kasungu and Mangochi at K400 million each.
Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said it is unfortunate that the stadia have missed their scheduled datelines.
“First, it has to be understood as to who is to blame on the missed deadline as such occurrences tend to have huge consequences. If it is the negligence of the contractors they have a price to pay and if it is the issue to do with the financiers of the project, government in this case, it is unfortunate as the contract sum will have to go beyond the projected budget,” he said.
“These stadia were meant to ease the problem of match venues and it will mean clubs, who were going to benefit from these grounds, will continue waiting.”