Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi maintained Sunday that his ministry was not sleeping on the job as regards rehabilitation of the once mighty entertainment mecca Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC).
There has been an outcry from the public on the state of the amphitheatre’s roof.
Some artists such as Erik Paliani and TJ Bless, who is based in Germany, described the venue on their Facebook pages as historical and that it is where they crafted their careers.
“Don’t kill the place; if you cannot run it, give it to us,” Paliani said.
But Usi, who once expressed disappointment with the state of the venue, said BCC will be rehabilitated.
“Things will work out. We have already awarded the contract and everything is in the pipeline. As a minister and an actor, the state BCC is in is also an embarrassment to me. But I can assure you that this place will be functional,” Usi said.
Apart from the amphitheatre, offices which arts associations had wanted to occupy are in poor state.
The government bought BCC, formerly French Cultural Centre, from the French government at K300 million before the venue was ransacked by thieves.
Recently, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife indicated that it would be rehabilitating BCC and that the project was expected to cost over K150 million.
The ministry’s spokesperson Symon Mbvundula said delays in rehabilitating BCC were of concern to them.
“For this year, we were set to do the amphitheatre, the old managers’ house and the perimeter fence. For the amphitheatre, commencement of the works has delayed because of procurement processes.
“We are still working with relevant authorities to conclude this so that the rehab works can start. As for rehabilitation of the old managers’ house and perimeter fence, there have been contractual issues between the contractor and the ministry and we are doing all we can to resolve the issues so that we can make progress for this section,” he said.
Mbvundula said their plans for 2022-23 are to conclude all the works and that they want some of the spaces to be functional by July or August this year.