Thursday, May 23, 2024

BOKA Hall successfully completed 

After years of delays and controversies, the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) training hall is finally completed.

It was officially opened by the Minister for Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture Tumiso Rakgare this past Wednesday, April 24th 2024. The training hall was built through the help of the Japanese Government grant scheme known as the “Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects.”  

The opening marked the end of BOKA’s long ambitious journey to have its own training facilities. From its inception, the hall, which was estimated to cost P10 million, was built through phases as BOKA did not have enough resources to undertake it.

While the erection of the hall did not encounter any major crisis from the onset, the final phase was fraught with controversies which nearly led the Japanese Embassy and BOKA to cross swords. 

To help BOKA complete the hall, in 2028, the Japanese Government, through its Embassy in Botswana, granted BOKA almost P1 million to complete the hall. The final phase of the construction was expected to take five months.

This was however not to be as the company contracted to complete the project failed to deliver, allegedly due to the drying out of allocated funds. The failure opened a can of worms for BOKA as allegations of corrupt dealings in the contract award surfaced.

The prolonged failure to complete the project as well as failure to account by BOKA soon irked the Japanese embassy. Faced with the embarrassing scenario, Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) then stepped up and took over the responsibility to complete the project.

BOKA president Mpho Bakwadi says in the time when the completion of the hall was halted, it was vandalised. This led to an increase in costs as BOKA had to beef up the security while more monies had to be pumped into the completion of the project.

“The hall was completed in February this year and we were ready to hand it over. Unfortunately, circumstances were not favourable and there were delays in the handover,” the BOKA president explains.

While it took almost six (6) years to complete the project, Japanese Ambassador to Botswana, His Excellency Setsuo Ohmori, expressed delight at the completion of the hall. The ambassador expressed optimism that the availability of the training hall will help Batswana karatekas to excel and one day ‘compete at the Olympics.’

The same sentiments were shared by Minister Rakgare who implored BOKA to fully utilize the hall to nurture athletes. The minister says if BOKA can fully utilize the hall to nurture top athletes, they will attract more partners to grow the sport.

Meanwhile, Bakwadi says the completion and handover of the hall has gone a long way in restoring faith on BOKA by partners, more especially the Japanese Government and the Embassy. 

The BOKA president says he is confident that if the association do things well, it will benefit from the Japanese help in future.

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