If indeed it is true, this has been one of the longest-awaited pieces of good news for some time. The completion of the National Stadium refurbishment, done or within sight brings a sigh of relief to many sport stakeholders.
This has been one of the longest running and most costly refurbishment exercises, having started ahead of the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa. In reworking on the stadium, the initial intention was to make it ready ahead of the World Cup for teams that were participating to use the facility as a training ground. That could not be the case. It was horribly done. Even then the shoddy piece of work could not meet the basic standards of a proper pitch for playing. Many millions of Pula from cost over-runs and appointment of new contractors and many years later, there is hope that today when there is a suggestion that the Stadium is ready or about so, it really is so. This is one very important national sport asset.
Though by international comparative standards it is small and not appealing, for this country it is the best available. It unfortunately barely compares with what they call stadia in the neighbouring South Africa. But this is what we have and it has so far served the national requirements as best as possible under the limitations it has. Without it local sport and the fans have suffered immeasurably. National soccer team, the Zebras, has not been able to draw multitudes to its games because of the limited capacity of others. Major premier league derbies have not been as profitable to teams as they have been forced to look for alternative playgrounds away from the city, leaving behind a share of their supporters.
It has been costly and risky for fans that also had to travel at night from soccer games in Molepolole or Lobatse. The return of National Stadium to active use provides a welcome relief to those that have been denied their most loved product because they could not manage to travel far. Clubs and even the senior national team are bound to see a surge in earnings as more people turn up for their games. The hassles have simply been eliminated. Sport product is easy to render with the use of this facility. This therefore ought to be a serious lesson in project implementation for government.
Monitoring and evaluation, professionally executed, should not be compromised upon. A lapse in this creates huge cost overruns, and massive inconvenience. The ministry of works ought to go all out to regain the trust in efficiently delivering quality on time. Quality many years later is too costly. My belief is that the ministry will not spare any effort in ensuring that those that caused this delay are made to account. The money that was spent on a previous contractor for a shoddy job must be returned.