Thursday, 21 January 2021

RAFARO STADIUM UPGRADE NOT A PRIORITY : COUNCIL

 


HARARE City Council-owned football stadiums Rufaro and Gwanzura are likely to stay in their rundown state as the local authorities have insisted they are currently not in a position to finance the renovations.

The council’s head of education and social services, Lizzy Muchena, revealed to The Herald yesterday that the local authorities are overwhelmed on the health services front mainly because of the Covid-19 pandemic and do not see the sprucing up of the facilities as a priority at the moment.

The two stadiums, which have been closed down several times for renovations in the last few years, have become an eyesore due to prolonged neglect.

Concerns have been raised over the collapse of the City Council-owned stadiums but it seems it will be some time before there are tangible results to talk about with regards to the renovations.

Muchena yesterday said the Harare City Council’s current financial situation has slowed down the refurbishment works. She, however, said attention will be given to the grounds once the financial situation improves.

“The renovations at Rufaro have been hampered by the financial situation in the Council and it’s not a priority right now because health is the number one priority. We also have refuse collection and roads that needs to be done first before we even start to talk about the stadiums.

“So for the stadiums, as soon as the financial situation goes back as it used to be, (we are) going back to the stadiums. But right now they are not a priority,” said Muchena.

The debate about Rufaro renovations was rekindled after our sister paper, Kwayedza, posted a picture online depicting the current state at the ground’s gates.

The open area outside Rufaro has become a dumping site for garbage while pools of water have been building up because of poor storm drainage.

Commenting on the upkeep of the facilities, Muchena said their staff is overwhelmed as they have had to cut their workforce in line with the Covid-19 regulations.

“(For) The general maintenance, we have scaled down to the bare minimum in terms of staff as per the Government’s directive in terms of the Covid-19 health regulations. So it’s just basic maintenance being done.

“It’s all part of refuse collection, if you notice the refuse collection is lagging behind, so it’s just part of that.

“It (Rufaro) will be cleaned as part of the programme for refuse collection. I am not sure about the current state of our refuse collection because it’s (done by) another department. But it’s part of their programme to clean up and I understand they will soon be focusing on Mbare especially.

“So as soon as they start, it will be part of the Mbare clean-up programme for the refuse collection department. They are only doing basic maintenance,” Muchena said.

However, this is not the first time issues of the maintenance of the facilities have been raised and the City Fathers need to come up with a permanent solution to avoid the embarrassing scenes at their facilities.

 “We do have our community workers from health, from social services, they do engage the community and the district officer but unfortunately all those people have scaled down (their operations) because of Covid-19.

“So you find that sometimes you only have one person doing a lot of community work because we don’t have the usual numbers on the ground, including for refuse collection.

“As part of the renovations, we are going to be putting a wall around that whole parking area at Rufaro Stadium, that is our plan,” said Muchena.

While renovations by the City Council are taking long, the Government has made some progress on the refurbishment of the National Sports Stadium, following the bombshell from CAF which saw all of Zimbabwe’s football grounds being condemned after failing to meet minimum requirements.

The National Sports Stadium had been under the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works since its construction in the mid-1980s but has since been placed in the hands of the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation.

The transferring process is still ongoing after it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministry was also given the permission to manage Magamba Hockey Stadium, Aquatic Complex and Khumalo Hockey Stadium. Herald

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