President Peter Mutharika on Saturday appealed to Malawians patronizing the Bingu National Stadium (BNS) to desist from acts of vandalism and hooliganism.
Mutharika said the nation would only benefit from the state-of-the-art sports facility if people patronizing it desisted from acts of vandalism and hooliganism.
He made the appeal in Lilongwe in his key-note address to mark the official opening of the $70 million, China-funded sports complex.
Mutharika described the BNS as one of the most beautiful stadiums in Africa and that it would play a role crucial in developing various sporting disciplines in the country.
“For the first time in the country, we have a modern stadium with facilities of international standard,” he said. “It is sad to hear that last time there was a match here, there was vandalism. This is not a stadium for hooliganism or a place for vandalism.”
Mutharika also appealed to the management of the stadium to take care of the facility so that it lasts years.
He hailed the Chinese government for constructing the stadium on top of other infrastructures in the country, among them, the Malawi University of Science & Technology (MUST) in Thyolo, the New Parliament Building, and the Umodzi Park in Lilongwe.
Mutharika described the Chinese government as a “true friend indeed” and said he hoped for continued cooperation between Malawi and China.
He said as he had promised some time back at Ndata in Thyolo that his government would complete all the developments championed by the late Bingu wa Mutharika, the opening of the stadium marked the completion of the five projects Bingu left.
Mutharika said his government would now embark on three of the seven projects approved by the Chinese government namely: the Kam’mwamba Coal power plant; the upgrading of the road from Mchinji Road to the Kamuzu International Airport into a dual carriage; and the laying of an optic fiber cable from Tanzania to Malawi to improve internet services.
He also welcomed the visiting Chinese football team, Guangzhou that flew into the country to spice up the opening of the BNS by playing a friendly match with a Malawi national select team.
“Feel free in the country of your brothers and sisters: Malawi is your home in Africa,” Mutharika said.
Earlier, the Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, Shi-Ting Wang, said his government would continue to support Malawi and Africa.
“Malawi and China has a comprehensive cooperation: we are brothers,” Shi-Ting said. “China’s promises to Malawi and Africa in general are serious and we will honor them.”
The ambassador also hailed the friendly football match between the Chienese team and Malawi, saying it would help promote people-to-people contact between the two countries.
Shi-Ting said that it was pleasing to have the opening of the BNS on the day the Chinese government celebrated their traditional New Year and time for family reunion.
The construction of the BNS, a brainchild of Bingu wa Mutharika’s dream, commenced on July 1, 2013 and was completed by November 30, 2015.
The stadium has a sitting capacity of 40,090, with two covered and two open stands; an eight-lane standard running track; 56 lounges where families and sponsor groups will have the luxury of watching live events in private; a medical centre; a police unit; two stand-by diesel powered generators of 800kw; and a 32000-litre fire hydrant water tank.
It also has an indoor training running track; two VVIP and two VIP lounges; four dressing rooms; two referee rooms; five event management rooms and three management rooms.
There are also eight shopping spaces at the BNS; two lifts for VVIPs; 800 toilets; and a 400-car parking space, among other facilities.
It is located in Area 48 between Area 47 and Area 49, Gulliver along the Kaunda Road.
The stadium was constructed by a Chinese construction company called AFECC which also constructed the MUST in Thyolo and the New Parliament.