By Aisha Tamba
The Minister of Youths and Sports, Bakary Badjie, yesterday led the media and other stakeholders on tour of the multi-million-dalasi reconstruction project at the Independence Stadium which began last week.
The project, which the minister called re-modeling, costs D160 million and is split into Lots 1 to 4. Two companies, Gigo Construction and Integral Group, a joint Turkish and Gambian company, have been contracted to do the job. The job entails a complete overhauling and installation of new electric and electronic systems, a modern hybrid football pitch, modern international changing rooms, scoreboard, Fifa and Caf standard individual pavilion-seating among other facilities.
“The project will completely change and transform this complex in a manner never seen before and that’s why we call it a re-modeling project,” Minister Badjie told journalists at a press briefing that followed the tour. He said the project will be completed in six months.
“The state of the stadium and the current Caf banning of its use has been a major concern of the government and through the Ministry of Youths and Sports, government has been working tirelessly to get the funds and the right companies to do the job,” he said.
He explained that the project has suffered some delays because its magnitude is huge and needed lot of time, including budgeting. “So, because it was never part of our budget and never factored at the ministry of finance at that time, it was hard for the government to do it. And we all know how much the government is spending on football in recent years,” Minister Badjie said.
“When people were questioning or thinking that the government is not committed to fixing the stadium, we told them that it was more about ensuring we do the right thing and ensure that all the procedures, administrative and financial regulations are followed. Because again when things don’t happen correctly, it will be our fault. It is the government that is going to be blamed for not doing the right thing,” he said.
He said this is not the first time the stadium has been banned from hosting international matches. “But what used to happen in the past is, we do some work and get temporary approval only to go back to being banned again. This time the project will be holistic and durable,” he said.