By Boris Esono Nwenfor
A stadium that is to serve as the venue for the opening and closing match has yet to be completed, with works having been suspended for a couple of months now. This Stadium was to serve as the venue for the 2019 AFCON that the country was supposed to organize.
Visiting the still to be completed stadium recently, Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, Cameroon’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education announced that the government has allocated an envelope of more than FCFA 6 billion from its funds for works to continue on the site uninterrupted. This money is one that was owed to the construction company.
The Cameroon government had been slow in reimbursing the funds to Magil, who had used its own money to continue work. However, the company could not continue paying its subcontractors and work had to be halted.
Magil took over from Piccini, who had been charged with the construction of the 60 thousand capacity stadium. Piccini was slow in its delivering with workers even going on strike due to non-payment led the government to cancel the contract and looked for an alternative company to complete the work.
For the completion of the work, some FCFA 55 billion is needed which the government has yet to secure funds for. The President has ordered the Minister of the Economy to negotiate for a loan of FCFA 55 billion. This amount was to be made available by the Italian bank Intesa San Paolo to the former contractor (Piccini) but after the company was released the bank also pulled out.
Magil is hoping to give the fully constructed stadium to the Cameroon government in November this year, two months to the start of the AFCON. Cameroon is hosting the continental showpiece this year after CAF had deemed the country unfit after multiple problems ranging from insecurity and the non-completion of stadia.
It is yet to be seen if the country will succeed in that mammoth task of finishing the stadium on the assigned date. Should they succeed, it will be left for the CAF inspection team to indicate whether the stadium is fit or not. Many observers are, however, displeased with the way things have been organized and the slow nature of work.