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‘Poor planning, negligence caused stadium stampede’

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The task force that President Peter Mutharika instituted to inquire into circumstances that led to a stampede at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) on Independence Day has cited poor planning and all stakeholders’ negligence as major reasons for the tragedy.

Eight people—seven children and one adult—died.

The stampede happened as people jostled for seats in the 40,000-seat facility to watch a football match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers.

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In a report presented to Mutharika Tuesday, the task force has cited poor decision making of police, sports department officials and stadium officials’ management skills and training and poor conduct of District Health Office first-aid personnel.

It has also cited poor planning, poor coordination among stakeholders, weak stadium access control, poorly planned and ineffectively execution of ticket use in controlling crowds, late opening of the gates and parental irresponsibility.

The task force also said the main committee that was organising events at BNS should have had subcommittees to focus on specific areas.

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“However, the taskforce does not find the absence of subcommittees a major flaw in the planning. This is so because there were, in the Main Organising Committee, members who it is believed could give the same type of expertise which they could give through subcommittees,” it reads.

The report also faults the timing of opening gates at the stadium.

The report has recommended the review of police management and handling of events involving public order, more especially on decision -making processes on the ground, improvement in the stadium crowd control facilities, training of stadium staff, establishment of central command centre and early gates opening.

Mutharika said the relevant authorities will look at the report and see what to do.

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