There is still no indication as to who exactly is to blame for all these delays and non-completion of stadia and no answers are forthcoming as to when the stadia will be open for use. Many set deadlines for the opening of the stadia have come and gone and what we get is just excuse after excuse.
As an avid football supporter and staunch sports follower, I was really excited when it was announced that the National Stadium and the SSKB stadia in Gaborone will be closed for renovations and new stadia/sports complexes will be built in Lobatse and Francistown. Every football follower, especially in Gaborone, Francistown and Lobatse jumped with joy, knowing that their teams will make use of the stadia. Since the ones in Lobatse and Francistown are sports complexes, even others who religiously follow other sporting codes thought their venues nightmare would be a thing of the past. Well, that excitement was short lived. Four years on, The National Stadium is still to be handed over to government and BNSC, and there is case after case being registered at the courts of laws. No answers as to when it will be available for use. And life goes on as if nothing is amiss. The Lobatse Sports Complex, that was officially opened by the late Bingu wa Mutharika was said to be complete but has since closed again after a few months. Well, I’m asking myself if the project was handed over e sa fela. But having had a look at it for the short period it was in use, something looked and seemed amiss. The Stadium just seemed incomplete and the pitch was in a sad state for a new stadium. It didn’t look anything like new.
The Francistown Sports Complex is the worst of the lot. At one point in 2010, we were told that it was about 12 months behind schedule; well, 12 months has become 24 months and we are still counting. There are reports of defects even before the stadium is handed over. A journalist friend of mine who recently visited the stadium told me that the stadium will fall apart after a few years because no brick force was used. I’m no construction expert but I know that brickforce is necessary in construction. Aren’t there regular balances and checks to ensure that all construction standards are adhered to? I just hope the ‘brick force’ story is not true though. I have also heard that there are some sections in the stadium where if one sits, they have no clear vision of the pitch and those particular spots in some of the stands might have to be brought down and re-done. Well, well, well, I hoped that is not true as well. But my worst fears were confirmed last week when it was confirmed that the design wasn’t on point and it is indeed true. I have a feeling some of these things only happen in Botswana. Only in Botswana do we have a stadium being built for well over four years and only in Botswana do we have a stadium closed for four years for minor renovations. And to the powers that be, it is business as usual. It looks like they could not be bothered. Once in a while, they come out in the media saying plenty of nothing. While the stadia remain closed, or incomplete, it is the sportsmen, sports followers, sponsors and sports affiliates who continue to suffer.
Last weekend as I was passing by the National Stadium towards the UB Stadium for the Bafana Bafana – Zebras clash, I kept glancing at the now useless National Stadium and I wondered how the atmosphere would be with supporters in the 20,000 seater as opposed to the 7,000 seater UB Stadium. I wondered how much more the cash-strapped Botswana Football Association has lost and continues to lose because of the unavailability of the National Stadium. Imagine all the revenue the BFA would have raised by hosting its games at the National Stadium since 2010, when the Stadium was supposed to have been open after renovation. Imagine how many more Batswana would have been able to see the 2012 AFCON qualifiers and see their National pride qualify for their maiden AFCON finals.
Throughout all these delays, no one seems to be accepting culpability. And as is always the case, even the worst goof ups ever like this one seem to slide along. If we were in any other country, some people would have long lost their jobs, but not in Botswana, people are still enjoying their monthly fat cheques while not doing any work. Surely if they were doing their work, the National Stadium, the Francistown Sports Complex and the Lobatse Sports Complex would have long been completed on schedule and on budget more than two years ago. I read that the Francistown Sports Complex needs a further P40 million to complete; where is all this money going to come from? Someone has to be held responsible for all this over-expenditure. Tax paying Batswana are being made to pay for someone’s ineptness and negligence while he or she continues to get a pay cheque every month. I foresee the Brazil 2014 World Cup stadia whose construction started this year finishing before ours that were constructed to coincide with the 2010 World Cup. Really sad.