Bingu National Stadium (BNS) will officially be opened on January 28 2017, the third time that goal posts have been shifted on the opening of the Chinese Government-funded facility.
The government had earmarked October then December 10 for the opening, which was supposed to be spiced up by a friendly match between Malawi National Football Team and a select side from China.
In the latest development, the facility’s Operations Manager, Eric Ning’ang’a, on Thursday confirmed the new opening date.
“We had several meetings and finally we agreed to open the facility next year. The President [Peter Mutharika] has already approved the date and he will officially open the facility. We are also expecting a delegation of more than 50 people from China for the opening ceremony,”Ning’ang’a explained.
Construction was completed last year in November, but the facility required extra-funding of K841 million from the Malawi government’s coffers to construct a sewer line and erect electricity connection cables.
Ning’ang’a said the last phase of the construction will be completed soon, adding that engineers have since advised that the natural turf requires dark soil every November.
The shift in the opening date could be a big blow to Luso Television, which has organised Bus Ipite bonanza whose second leg—between Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers—was earmarked for the stadium on January 2, 2016.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) first vice-President, James Mwenda, yesterday said the association will wait until the facility is ready.
“If the owners say the facility is not ready, as Fam, we have no option but to use the available sports facilities,” Mwenda said.
Super League of Malawi (Sulom) Treasurer, Tiya Somba- Banda, said the delay in the opening of the facility did not affect their league calendar for this season.
“We are looking forward to the opening of the stadium and that will be a big plus to us. But the delay did not disturb our plans because we did not include it in match venues for this season,” Somba-Banda said.
The facility was constructed with a concessional loan from the Chinese Government to the tune of $65 million (about K29 billion) payable in 20 years with a grace period of seven years. The loan will be repaid at an annual interest rate of two percent.
Once opened, BNS will be home to the Flames as Kamuzu Stadium was condemned as unfit to host international games.
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