The cost for the renovation of the National Stadium has risen to a staggering P200 million from the initial estimate of P68 million. Information reaching Sunday Standard is that the department of Building and Engineering Services has since notified the Minister of Youth Sports and Culture, Moeng Pheto.
Pheto has also confirmed to Sunday Standard that the costs have swelled. He said the figures are frustrating and his Ministry even contemplates some likely and possible options.
”Two hundred million is a lot of money and I am even thinking of using the latest figures to construct a new stadium instead of renovation. I am still to meet with the relevant stakeholders for the way forward because using P200 million for renovation of the stadium would be a waste of funds,” he said.
Minister Pheto, however, added that if the new stadium is constructed, that does not mean the National Stadium would not be given a new lease of life. He said they would rather engage in minor renovations rather than major ones as was the case before.
“The best possible options currently are to plant a new tuff and some minor things that we think have passed their sell-by dates. Definitely we will do something something for the survival of the stadium for a long term purposes,” he said.
The face-lifting of the National Stadium was under the current National Development Plan nine. By the time P68 million was on the table, Pheto promised to fast track the whole process so that it is finished well in time to target the looming 2010 World Cup in South Africa. On the planned upgrading of UB and Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) stadiums, Pheto emphasized that efforts are still underway and an amount of P2 000 000 would be used. The National, UB and SSKB stadiums are targeted to host visiting teams during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The three stadiums are the target mainly because of their proximity to other facilities such as hotels and medical centers. The Botswana Tourism Board has since made it clear that they are targeting teams that would bring rhythm in the country. These are teams that are largely followed around the country. The possible targets are England, Brazil, Italy and Portugal.
Since it is only Italy that is guaranteed a place at the tournament, it is still difficult for the government to be exact. Other countries still have to qualify and there is a possibility that other targeted countries might not make it. Even if they make it, the team officials would have to inspect the facilities to see whether they meet international standards. Pheto also added that they are considering a situation whereby certain teams can be based in the country permanently and only going to South Africa during the matches.
“The issue of teams staying in neighbouring countries is still discussed by the Supreme Council of the Sports Ministers and once a decision is made, we will let the world know. Also, it would depend on the participating countries whether they want to stay outside the hosting country or not. I also once personally spoke to South African Minister of Sports, Reverend Makhekensi Stofile, and he did not have any problem with that,” he said.
Another major hurdle for Botswana is that the World Cup will not be held in all big cities. This has resulted in the ones that are not hosting any games making serious bids for competing countries to practice in their respective cities. This then means Botswana has to do more than convincing famous countries to head to Botswana. Other neighbouring countries are also not leaving any stones unturned. Countries like Zambia, Swaziland and Lesotho are potential threats. Angola and Mozambique are seen as competing for Portugal because they are Portuguese speaking nations.