LILONGWE--Pres Joyce Banda on Tuesday laid a foundation stone on the site of the national sports stadium project in Area 48, Lilongwe signaling the launch of the eagerly awaited multimillion kwacha project to be undertaken by Chinese construction firm Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Corporation.
Speaking before a mammoth crowd, which gathered at the side to witness the occasion, Banda explained that he took the stadium project back to Lilongwe because Lilongwe is Malawi’s capital city and centrally located to provide easy access for people from all corners of Malawi.
Besides, the President said Blantyre already has the Kamuzu Stadium, whose seating capacity is more or less the projected capacity of the new stadium, which is expected to have 40,500 seats.
Banda wondered why the previous DPP government took away the stadium project from Lilongwe to Blantyre: “I have been wondering what these people were thinking about. I don’t know what Honourable Sidik Mia (Minister of Transport and Public Infrastructure) and his colleagues were discussing,” said Banda, drawing laughter from the high table where Mia and his several other cabinet colleagues were seating.
She said both the stadium and Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) projects were for the people of Lilongwe: “As the Chinese Ambassador has said, I was part of the team that went to China to discuss diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China so I know where these facilities were supposed to be.”
Apart from providing sporting and recreation facilities, the Malawi leader said the stadium was another mark of the cordial bilateral relationship existing between Malawi and The People’s Republic of China.
He advised Escom to make sure there is power supply in the area of the project and other surrounding areas including the new police lines.
Earlier Mia thanked Banda for taking the stadium project back to Lilongwe: “I congratulate you for taking us through 100 days of success. This occasion is a mark of the 100 days of success and I thank you for your bold decision to take the stadium back to Lilongwe, where it belongs,” said Mia.
Mia disclosed that the new stadium will have a synthetic running track, a parking space of 920 cars, a practicing ground and training facilities for athletes, amongst other structures.
The Minister said the construction period was 29 months but pointed out the contractor had assured to complete the project in less than the projected period.
Chinese Ambassador Pan Hejun hailed the Malawi government for positively responding to the needs and aspirations of Malawians by speeding up the project launch.
He pledged that the project, which is one of the projects funded through the Chinese concessionary loans, would be delivered in time:
“What is being displayed in the graphical design will become a reality in two years time and I hope the Chinese national football team will one day be invited to play against Malawi’s Flames in this stadium.
The project is expected to commence soon after completion of the science and technology university in Thyolo district, later this year.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.