I said it years ago and I will say it again because it is the right thing to do. Right from the onset of the project, it was clear that Bingu National Stadium (BNS) of Lilongwe was a right facility built in a wrong country at a wrong time.
It was like someone who could not afford to keep a Toyota Carina TI on the road—servicing it and buying gasoline—had acquired a loan to buy a Lamborghini Veneno.
And in the case of BNS, the problem is that it is our sons/daughters and grandsons/ daughters who would bear the brunt of our folly, which this white elephant represents.
Get me right. With Malawi’s population rising to 18 million, having such a facility was inevitable. But if you ask me, the generation that deserved such a stadium was of the 1980s and 70s because they had a sense of ownership and discipline.
They knew what it took and meant to care for property— public and private. Not this generation.
If people vandalise a signpost leading to a hospital, then surely they do not deserve anything good.
In the mistaken name of freedom—whatever that means—people just do not care for anything, including themselves.
Certainly, not BNS which would see the government repaying K2 billion (about $70 million) from our taxes to the Chinese government, which sponsored the project through a concessional loan, in the next 20 years.
Surely, Malawi does not deserve such an Olympic standard stadium that is replete with a state-of-the-art CCtv, comfy seating and parking areas, conference and business rooms.
The moment I stepped on BNS last year, I knew that I was at the right stadium located in a wrong country.
I was, therefore, not surprised to learn through The Daily Times edition of Thursday that Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi had disconnected power at the facility over an unpaid K16 million bill.
Issues of unpaid utility bills have been common since the stadium opened its doors. And so are theft and vandalism.
Connecting BNS management’s failure to pay the electricity bill to the re-opening of Kamuzu Stadium, which is now hosting major football games in Blantyre, might be true.
But that alone cannot be the reason for the blackout at BNS.
You do not build such a big stadium if you cannot take care of a smaller 5,000-seater BAT Ground in Blantyre. You need a business plan to guide you in running a facility such as BNS. Apart from hosting prayers and football games, what else is BNS able to host?
When the government accepted to have the Chinese build the facility, what was the original business plan to keep the stadium self-sustainable?
Therefore, before BNS becomes dilapidated like Kamuzu Stadium and BAT Ground, the government must quickly decide whether to maintain its management team or outsource it.
If the government is not decisive enough on BNS, it would be a great betrayal for the next generations to be paying for our folly. Under-utilising any asset comes at a cost and it is huge for BNS.
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