The firm that is constructing Zomba Stadium says works on the facility could have been completed long ago had the government released required funds in time.
The project, which commenced in 2017, has stalled, forcing community members to take Zomba City Mayor Davie Maunde and Dec Construction Limited Managing Director Dan Elias Chale to task over the delay.
When asked about what has caused the delay, Chale said funding was the major issue.
“There are a number of factors attributed to the delay of Zomba Stadium construction. If you recall, we started this project in 2017 and this year marks the fifth year, and not seven years as communicated. The major issue is funding. When you don’t have resources, it is quite difficult to complete a task,” he said.
Chale also spoke on the issue of capacity, saying the stadium’s capacity remains at 20,000 and not 8,000.
“We submitted a bid of about K15 billion but they had to cut it off for that particular financial year [for us] to exhaust about K4 billion. Whatever we are doing is within the proximity of K4 billion.
“[with K15 billion], we were supposed to complete the whole spectators’ stands all round to engulf the pitch but [work on] the northern side stalled because we are using [funds drawn from] the current financial year, which cannot accommodate construction of the stands on the northern side of the ground,” he said.
However, Chale said even with K4 billion, stands that are on either side of the VIP Stand will likely not be completed.
“It is quite hectic. In some instances, we reached the extent of borrowing money from banks so that people should not see the contractor as a failure. The interest rate at the bank is quite exorbitant and this is killing us. My appeal to the government is to capacitate local constructors so that the money should circulate within the local industry,” he said.
Chale said his firm managed to deliver police houses within eight months despite being given a target of a year.
“We were able to complete the police housing project at Malamya in Malindi, Mangochi, in time because we did not struggle to secure funds. We were well funded for that project and we had no reason to delay it.
“You know when you have money, you can do anything. You can work day and night but when you don’t have money it is like going to a war without ammunition,” he said.
Ministry of Local Government spokesperson Anjoya Mwanza was yet to respond to our questionnaire as we went to press.
Minister of Youth and Sports Richard Chimwendo Banda said they were hoping that the old capital city will have a befitting stadium for a city.
“I sympathise with the Zomba community who want the facility to be finished soon but this facility is under the Ministry of Local Government and we feel that they will ensure that it is a modern stadium befitting a city,” he said.