Accra Stadium, a death trap… structures fast deteriorating

SONY DSC The rusted roof at the VVIP StandThe nation’s Wembley, Accra Sports Stadium, is a disaster waiting to happen.

A visit by The Ghanaian Times to the stadium on Sunday, revealed it is a facility that is deteriorating with humiliating rapidity, as some corroded pieces of metals were seen dangling dangerously.

Peeled-off metal trappings, corroded iron gates and metallic bars, a frayed scoreboard with its tear-away metallic pillars, are some of the appalling scenes that greet visitors to the once-beautiful edifice, renovated in 2007 ahead of the 26th African Cup of Nations in 2008.

The state of decay also stretches to the Presidential Stand, the roofing of which is a blot on the stadium’s landscape.

The refurbishment of the stadium cost the nation about $38 million dollars.

Indeed, the stadium has not seen any renovation work since it last hosted the continent’s biennial showpiece seven years ago, and the apparent absence of a maintenance culture continues to wear it down.

Football fans who spoke to The Ghanaian Times on Sunday, expressed their displeasure at the lack of maintenance of the facility.

“There is no iota of doubt that we lack the sense of maintenance. Why do we want to spend millions of cedis on such an edifice and allow it to go waste?” Alfred Essuman quizzed.

He said urgent steps should be taken to stop the stadium from decaying further, “otherwise, some of us would stop coming to the stadium to save our lives.”

A female fan, Naa Torshie Ashong, blamed the NSA for the state of affairs, insisting that “they have to look for funds to put the stadium into good shape and not to wait on government.”

“It’s so sad that our authorities cannot even buy anti-rust paint just to prevent the metals from rusting,” another fan added.

When contacted yesterday, Saka Acquaye, the Chief Sports Development Officer (CSDO) of the National Sports Authority (NSA), said he was not mandated to speak on the issue, but conceded he was concerned about the “worrying” situation.

“At the moment, I’m directly in charge of our preparations towards next month’s All Africa Games in Brazzaville, and that’s what I can effectively talk on,” he told The Ghanaian Times.

The Estate Manager of the NSA, Eric Nkansah Dwamena, although equally concerned about the rate of deterioration, allayed the fears of the public with regard to a looming disaster, since in his view, “the main structures are very solid.”

“The auxiliary structures can be said to be weak and need immediate attention, but the main ones are dependably rock-solid,” he added.

The Estate Manager attributed the metallic corrosion to the contractors’ failure to use anti-rust paint “which would have saved the metal trappings and other light structures from the effects of the sea breeze.”

The 35,000-capacity Accra Sports Stadium is located about 400 metres away from the Atlantic Ocean.

Later in an interview, the Director-General of the National Sports Authority (NSA), Joe Kpenge, told The Ghanaian Times that his outfit was “seriously” worried about the condition of the stadium and were working “diligently” to ensure the situation was fixed.

“We are not negligent, and we are not just sitting and waiting for the structure to collapse on us. We come here daily and so if there should be any state of panic, we would feel it more than anybody else,” he said.

The NSA Director-General explained that he came to meet a February 2014 feasibility report put together by the Architectural Engineering Services Limited (AESL) on the need to renovate the stadium, when he took over in June the same year.

“That notwithstanding, we invited them again only two weeks ago to conduct another study and we are waiting to have their final report,” he said.

Portions of the AESL feasibility report of February 2014 sighted by The Ghanaian Times last week, said the Accra Sports Stadium remained safe under normal loadings, “and there was no danger of structural failures in the near future.”

However, it warned that if nothing was done about the current situation, “the manifestation of failed or distressed coatings would become more prevalent and areas currently corroding will continue to do so, with the severity and extent of corrosion increasing; corrosion being a time-depending process”.

It stated that “further delay of maintenance painting could result in greater deterioration.”

AESL is the company initially employed by the government to oversee the maintenance of the Accra Sports Stadium.

According to Mr. Kpenge, the NSA could not generate enough funds to undertake the renovation and had therefore, made a request to the Ministry of Finance for investment funding through its Public-Private Partnership (PPP) medium.

“For now, we are waiting for a positive response from the Finance Ministry and when we are through, the renovation works will certainly roll,” he assured.

Checks at the Ministry of Youth and Sports yesterday, indicated that the government had approved a budget of GH¢1.9 million for the renovation of five of the nation’s stadia, the Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Essipon and Kpando stadia.

However, the money is yet to be released by the Finance Ministry.

In August last year, the Ghana Football Association (GFA), attributed its decision to move the Black Stars’ opening 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Uganda from Accra to the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, to the deteriorating facilities at the Accra Stadium.

By John Vigah

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