- Government not sure when BT Stadium construction will start
- Only six months remain on Mutharika’s promise
There is uncertainty on when the construction of a new stadium in Blantyre will start as government says it is yet to get resources for the project.
President Peter Mutharika promised the construction of a new stadium in the commercial city when he was campaigning for presidency prior to the 2014 Tripartite Elections but the project has not been initiated with only six months remaining on his five-year tenure of office.
When asked on whether the construction will start this year or anytime in 2019, former minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila said: “If the resources are found tomorrow, then we have no reason not to start the work. If we cannot then we will wait until the Treasury tells us when the resources are available.”
On the progress that has been made so far, the minister said the project is still at the designs stage.
“The guys that are doing the preliminary designs are college students. I need to get an update from the team on the progress. Call me in the afternoon for a clear picture,” he said.
When called again, the Minister said he could not get an update as he was in a meeting.
When asked to explain about the details of the students that are doing the preliminary designs, Kasaila said they are from the building department in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works.
“All government projects, primarily, are technically handled by this department. So, we are the clients and we use technical officers from the building department to do the survey, geological tests, engineering designs and supervision,” he said.
In the 2018/19 National Budget, the new stadium, which is projected to cost about K110 billion, has been allocated K500 million for designs.
In the previous budget, it was allocated K1.5 billion for designs and start-up work, but Ministry of Finance and Economic Development spokesperson Davies Saddo told The Nation in June that part of it was diverted towards the rehabilitation of the Kamuzu Stadium, which is about a kilometre away from the new stadium site at Njamba Freedom Park. However, he could not tell the exact amount.
“We felt the need to prioritise the Kamuzu Stadium rehabilitation. That is why we had to divert the funding allocated to the new stadium,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Affairs chairperson Richard Chimwendo Banda has said his committee will summon the Minister in the next few days to explain why the new stadium project is delaying long after being allocated funds.
“We wonder why we do not see any progress on the new stadium project and the minister needs to explain what is happening on the ground,” he said.
The stadium project is aimed at solving the scarcity of high standard sports facilities in the commercial city.
Although sports lovers delight at the completion of renovations at the Kamuzu Stadium, there are still concerns over scarcity of a spacious and high standard sports facility in the commercial city considering that the stadium’s capacity has further been trimmed from 22 000 to 14 600.