Minister of Youth and sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare has assured that the National Stadium Surulere, Lagos will soon be completed to play host to sporting activities.
Speaking on Monday when he paid a working visit to the sports City, the Minister said he was excited that since the scoreboard was functioning, the pitch regrassed, other facilities like the tartan tracks the vip lounge, spectators stands among others will soon be completed.
According to him; ”This facility was abandoned for many years. The stadium, unlike the Abuja Stadium had zero maintenance fund for almost 17 years, but we got Chief Adebutu Kesington to get it back to life.
“The time needed to get it back to life is much longer than what the eyes can see. The underbelly of the pitch had to be excavated, new sprinklers installed because the old ones were either stolen or rotten.
“The 10 lane tartan tracks is starting from the scratch because we listened to expert advise, the scoreboard took longer time to dismantle because it had become obsolete and had to be replaced with a new one.
“The decay at the complex has been on for too long. The person funding the work insisted on the right quality and the International standard before work started.”
He further said; “It took me a while to come here, but my coming is a validation of the fact that I’m impressed with the level of work that has been done. I hope that very soon we can host events here once we get the place functional.
“We are going to clear the debris, the grass is being properly maintained and the tracks will soon be laid and we are good to go.”
On plans to restore the master plan of the Stadium, the Minister said; ”I set up a task force to restore the master plan of the stadium and to eject illegal occupants and remove illegal structures.
“We took down more than 100 illegal shops, we received bashing from the press and some people that had lost their source of livelihood.
“This is a sports facility and not a market place which holds a lot of fund memories. We have identified a parcel of land where we can build about 150 lock up shops, a bank, fire service to accommodate those that were evicted.
“We are awaiting Mr President anticipatory approval, we are working with the Ministry of Works, BPE and other government agencies. Once approval is given work would start in earnest.”
He explained that measures would be put in place to get the control room functioning so that the water sprinkler, scoreboard and the lighting systems can become activated.
“By April, we hope the facility can host a football match, Athletics meet that would bring the fans back to the stands. With the Covid restrictions on the number of fans at sports event, we can get them back in few numbers.”