By Staff Writers
Maseru, Oct 31 (The Night’s Watch) – The government has still not found money to finance construction of a number of major infrastructures towards hosting the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games scheduled for December 2020, Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday.
This casts serious doubts over Lesotho’s suitability to host the games and the country now faces a substantial risk of having hosting rights taken away from them.
To host these games, Lesotho has to construct a number of major infrastructures namely the Multi-Purpose Indoor Sport Centre to accommodate all sports codes and a 20,000 seater stadium that will host football and athletics in Lepereng Maseru.
Student accommodation flats will also have to be built to accommodate all the players during the games at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).
These will cost the country which is already struggling to make ends meet, a whopping M2.4 billion.
The Ministry of Finance announced on Wednesday that in line with the requirements of the Loans and Guarantees Act 1967, Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro consulted Cabinet on the question of negotiating sovereign guarantees for the purpose of financing construction of sport facilities to assist Lesotho host the AUSC youth games.
The Ministry said Cabinet duly authorized the Majoro to negotiate and sign the guarantees and on October 11, the minister signed the guarantees in favour of Property 2000 as the financier of the three property developers engaged by the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation to develop the various properties.
“The developers are NEPCO TWO (Pty) Ltd engaged to construct accommodation facilities at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and playgrounds at the cost of M760 million; Design Edge (Pty) Ltd engaged to construct a stadium at Lepereng at the cost of M898 million, and MFT Lesotho (Pty) Ltd engaged to construct an indoor training facility at the cost of M785 million,” Ministry of Finance said in a statement.
The statement added that with the signature authorised and executed, the Ministry of Finance “is now waiting for the financier to provide funding for the projects, to enable timely completion”.
These facilities are expected to be handed over to the Regional Organizing Committee (ROC) by October 2020.
Majoro has already told Cabinet that given the remaining time to December 2020 and the massive infrastructure being proposed, the time left for construction of this infrastructure “brings into doubt the quality and professionalism of works that will be done and achieved”.
This is making it clearer to everyone that the country is not, and will not, be ready to host the event in December next year.
The failure to get ready in time will be bad for the country’s reputation.
Cameroon was stripped of the right to host this year’s Africa Cup of Nations which was in June after serious delays with its preparations in November last year, seven months before the games started.
In February this year, Peru’s organisational and infrastructure challenges were enough to see their hosting rights stripped for the 2019 Under 17 World Cup.
The South American nation was set to host the even in October this year, having been awarded hosting rights last June.
But eight months before kick-off, FIFA decided that the tournament be moved to another location following a number of inspection visits.
The clock is ticking for Lesotho. NW