BY FORTUNE MBELE
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) yesterday said government had availed $13 million towards the refurbishment of Barbourfiields Stadium.
The country’s football stadia were banned from hosting Confederation of African Football (Caf) matches and BCC and the government are battling to spruce up Barbourfields and the National Sports Stadium in Harare to try and persuade Caf to allow Zimbabwe to host international matches.
Zimbabwe is scheduled to host Algeria on March 29 in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier and the government is working to avert a threat of that match being played outside the country
Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni confirmed that the local authority had received communication from government on the funding.
“I am pleased to say that the Ministry of Local Government has confirmed the release of a $13 million grant which we had requested for short to remedial works at Barbourfields. The ministry has identified a contractor who will work at Barbourfields and the National Sports Stadium. The contractor will start as soon as possible in preparation for the next Caf inspection and the next international match. I am advised that the contractor should be in Bulawayo this afternoon,” Mguni said.
Council housing and community services director Dictor Khumalo said they were working flat out to fulfil Caf’s demands.
He said the lighting and installation of bucket seats will be done at a later stage.
“We are working flat out and have done the necessary quotations. As far as the Algeria match is concerned, I am sure Zifa will deal with this issue depending on how we progress with the renovations that we are currently seized with,” Khumalo said.
He said the budget for the renovations was $58 million and the council was working on capacitating its architects to align with the architecture of modern-day stadia to meet the required standards.
The council also received 100 bags of cement and a refrigerator from former Premier Soccer League fixtures secretary Beadle Musa Gwasira, who was represented by Eddie Chivero, while Herentals also pledged to upgrade the dressing rooms as well as the installation of an air conditioner.
Gwasira’s donation was said to be worth $45 000.
At the National Sports Stadium, work continued on the facility with groundsmen working on the grass which Caf said should be trimmed to a much lower level than what the authorities had preferred over the years.
The authorities have also been working on the lighting which was deemed poor. The government is working on a crash programme to rectify the anomalies at the stadium in the hope that the Caf ban is lifted ahead of the next match.