The government has allayed fears on the condition of the Kamuzu Stadium artificial turf which was turned into a parking area for buses that brought in about 440 Malawians who had just returned from South Africa.
The returnees, who arrived in over eight buses, were driven to the stadium to wait for results of their Covid-19 tests.
The buses were driven right into the stadium which is home to giants Be Forward Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets.
Despite plenty of parking space at the sports facility, the buses, which had trailers, were driven onto the pitch and were parked in the Northern half of the artificial playing surface.
In cases where vehicles are driven into the stadium, they are usually parked on the running track or on the space just after entry through the main gate.
Other vehicles also park next to the VIP, covered and MBC stand entrances.
After completing the long and weary journey, the returnees littered the turf in defiance of restrictions aimed at keeping it free of objects and dirt that would shorten its lifespan.
Some were seen throwing around plastic papers and food remains on the pitch while others played football to pass time.
Football Association of Malawi Artificial Turf Manager, Jossam Namwera, was reluctant to comment on the matter, saying they would wait for stadium officials to invite them for assessment.
“We will wait for them to call us if they suspect any damages to the turf. The stadium belongs to the government and we cannot go there on our own without being invited. Should the owners need our help, we are available,” Namwera said.
Kamuzu Stadium Manager, Ambilike Mwaungulu, said they would do an assessment to calculate the damage caused.
Mwaungulu said they inspected the facility after the returnees and the buses disappeared by Wednesday morning.
“From what we have seen so far, the turf is intact. We had time to clean it. However, we will require experts to conduct their own assessment. It’s not like damage can be noticed in the immediate term. For now, we are sure that the turf is intact. Should we suspect that something is out of place, we will do that by reporting to the officials from the ministry of sports,” Mwaungulu said.
Ministry of Sports spokesperson, Simon Mbvundula, said the stadium remained under Ministry of Health’s control.
“We surrendered the stadium to Ministry of Health as it processed Covid-19 test results of the returnees. We are yet to be communicated if they are done with the facility. Once the exercise is completed, we will inspect the stadium to see if there is any damage.
“But from what I have been told, we should not be worried. If there is any damage, it is our responsibility to do the needful by making sure that everything is in good shape. The facility was set aside for use as the Ministry of Health was processing Covid-19 test results for our fellow Malawians who had returned from South Africa. So when the Ministry of Health is done with the facility, we will conduct the assessment,” Mbvundula said.
But Lilongwe-based football analyst, George Chiusiwa, described the decision to park the buses on the pitch as terrible.
Chiusiwa said the buses could have been parked outside the stadium or on the running track.
“Whoever directed that the buses be parked on the pitch must have had ulterior motives. This was not the right way of doing things. We have been told that the artificial turf is very expensive and doing maintenances alone is also abit expensive. This is the new artificial turf and it hasn’t last three years since they installed it from the old one,” Chiusiwa said.