The Tonse Alliance government has allayed fears on the future of Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers stadiums by issuing payment to contractors.
Former president Peter Mutharika pledged to construct a stadium each for Bullets and Wanderers as he campaigned for re-election last year.
Mutharika launched construction of the two facilities early last month but works did not begin in earnest as contractors withdrew their equipment and workforce.
The government assured the two clubs that the contractors would return in full force after mobilising more resources.
The two projects’ future was cast into doubt with Mutharika’s loss to Lazarus Chakwera who is expected to draw a new budget later this year in line with his campaign promises.
However, all seems to be well as Treasury has paid an undisclosed amount to Chinese contractors Anhui Foreign Economic Construction and Chinese Civil Engineering Company to continue construction works at Moneymen and Kapeni Demonstration School in Blantyre.
Ministry of Youth and Sports spokesperson, Symon Mbvundula, said they expect progress on the works after issuing the payment on Friday.
“We expect works to resume, now that payment has been effected. The government has done its part by releasing payment.
The contractors were paid at different times of the day but what matters most is that they both got their cheques. So Bullets and Wanderers should not worry,” Mvundula said.
A visit to the sites on Tuesday confirmed that both contractors were on site and had erected some structures.
Bullets Chief Administration Officer, Albert Chigoga, commended the government for issuing the payment.
“We are very grateful to the government for showing commitment to the development of sports in the country by paying the contractors. This bears testimony to the fact that the Tonse Alliance administration is a listening government.
“We in the Bullets family are delighted with the news that the government has paid our contractors. This demonstrates the government’s commitment towards helping our club to own a stadium for the first time in its history. This is one way of developing sports in the country and we are grateful for the consideration,” Chigoga said.
Wanderers General Secretary, Victor Maunde, also expressed gratitude to the government for the payment.
“We are happy with what the government has done. This is good news at a time when we are going through various challenges. We are now assured that construction of the stadium will begin,” Maunde said.
However, a Chinese supervisor at Wanderers’ site who only identified himself as Yang, said works would commence immediately after funds had been transferred into their account.
“I am not aware of any payment being made. Maybe my bosses who are not here know something. But for now, as you can see, we are finalising construction of our campsite. We expect to get busy on the ground as soon as the funds transfer is completed,” he said.
The government had set aside about K1.6 billion for the two stadiums in the 2019/2020 budget which was presented last year.
Despite being the best followed teams locally with millions of supporters within and outside the country, Wanderers and Bullets have never owned a training ground or match facility since their formation in the 1960s.
In the absence of their own home grounds, the two crowd pullers have relied on the government’s Kamuzu Stadium to host their home games.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.