By: Pa Barrow
The country’s sports arena, the Independence Stadium in Bakau, may not host the Scorpion’s next qualifiers against Mali in March 2023 since the planned renovation works are yet to commence.
It would be recalled that the stadium was banned last year by FIFA, which said it is not fit as a venue for holding international football matches.
This meant the Scorpions had been participating in and playing all its qualifying matches away from Banjul.
Consequently, the Scorpions have been playing both home and away matches in Senegal in June, while the CHAN team played in Morocco a few months ago.
Meanwhile, as owners of the stadium, the government commissioned a study on the required civil works, which entail refitting the pavilions with seats, and modernizing the dressing rooms and washrooms.
It followed up with D100 million as funding for the work.
In an exclusive interview, the Alkamba Times spoke to the minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Y. Badjie, who said he could not say when the renovation would start.
“The ministry has done its part, but this is a collective responsibility. Our role is to look for the funds and ensure that we get the people that are supposed to do the job.
“Another layer concerns the procurement aspect and the funds’ release. So that is where we are now.
“The ministry has done an assessment and produced the report. Contractors were also identified to do the job. The contracts committee has passed all the documents to the internal audit to release the funds, but the internal audit is holding back based on certain things they need.
“We provided that, but still, the internal audit is withholding the payment,” Badjie told TAT.
The minister revealed that “one of the contractors is asking for additional payments because, according to him, the materials are more expensive now than when he was given the contract.
“In a contractual agreement, that is unacceptable, and we are going back to the negotiation table and starting the process again,” he added.
“The Gambia was scheduled to play in March. Still, unfortunately, I cannot tell you what will happen before that because the Ministry of Finance and Procurement both have responsibility for this.
“It is a concern for everyone that the country will be playing its home matches away if the stadium is not ready in time,” he lamented.