By Mohamed Lamin Banya
Late President Siaka Steven in 1979 built the country’s national stadium which was named after him for it to be used mostly for football matches and athletic activities.
However, over the years the stadium has degenerated to being used as a venue for social, cultural, religious, political and musical entertainment and other purposes including inauguration of newly-elected presidents.
AYV has found out that some people are currently erecting bars and restaurants around the stands at the stadium.
The numbers of stalls currently erected around the stadium stands are making access to the stands difficult during the day while at night; criminals congregate around the vicinity of these stalls to harass and attack innocent people.
AYV also found out that people are not only erecting bars and restaurants around the stadium but that they are also using it as shelter. Some of the bars are even being used as night clubs which is a security threat to the stadium and even to people who frequent these places.
In some of the stands AYV noticed that the stall owners had started erected makeshift stores underneath the stands’ step to keep their personal effects and business wares.
AYV also observed that most of the stalls are selling pint drinks which are not permitted into the stadium because they can be used as weapon to injure players and fans alike as well as innocent people.
In some of the stalls AYV saw barbeque grills standing close and even underneath some steps to the stalls. This is a threat to the stadium because the fire produced from the heat weakens the foundation of the steps.
Responding to AYV’s findings about the bars and restaurants in the stadium, the General Manager National Stadium Management, Paul Damulay said the bars and restaurants around the stadium are legal and have been approved by the world football governing body (FIFA), adding that the structures have been existing at the stadium since it was constructed.
“A FIFA assessment team has visited the stadium and they commended us and approved the bars and restaurants,” he said. He added that the erection of the structures around the stadium has helped minimize the rate of armed-robbery which had been happening during football matches and other events.
He further said that he was the one that called on the stall owners to help rebrand the stadium with their bars and restaurants because he wanted the stadium to be lively with or without football matches.
The erection of these bars has helped create more employment in and around the stadium, he noted, adding that most of the development in the stadium is being done by the stall owners to change the face of the stadium.