The Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), Dr Francis Kai-Kai says the rehabilitation of the Freetown National Stadium is in fulfilment of what President Bio had set out to do for the development of sport in Sierra Leone, as part of his campaign promises.
He made this statement while delivering the keynote address, on behalf of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio at the launch of the rehabilitation of the National Stadium, which has been funded by the China Aid Project.
“Today, we are gathered here to launch the commencement of the comprehensive rehabilitation and refurbishment of our dilapidated national stadium. With the help of our Chinese partners, this will also be delivered on President Bio’s watch”, the Minister emphasized.
He said recent developments in the football arena, including Sierra Leone’s qualification and phenomenal participation in the opening stages of the recently concluded 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon were outcomes of what patriotic leadership can offer a country.
Dr Kai-Kai commended the Government and People’s Republic of China to have consented to support the rehabilitation with a grant of about US$40 million, which according to him is expected to bring the facility to modern international standards within the next two years.
The Minister noted that once completed the stadium would serve as the heart of excitement for the country and as a centre for the promotion of sports for the citizens of Sierra Leone.
On his part, the Minister of Sports, Ibrahim Nyelenkeh said upon his assumption into office, his greater hope was to have an indelible footprint by embarking on profitable transformation across all spectra in the sporting circle, a commitment made by the Bio-led administration.
He said the renovation work is a testament to the true bond that exists between the two countries.
“Our robust partnership extends well beyond the confines of international forums. Just a glance at Sierra Leone’s landscape will reveal some of the magnificent fruits of this diplomatic relationship”, he ended.
His Excellency Ambassador Hu Zhangliang, in his remarks, said it was a great pleasure to participate in the launching ceremony, which signifies the progress of practical cooperation between China and Sierra Leone, adding that H.E President Xi Jinping attached great importance to the China-Sierra Leone relationship.
Ambassador Hu Zhangliang said the rehabilitation work would include the restoration, reinforcement and redecoration of the main stadium, the pitch, practising field with artificial turf and pavilion, the swimming pool and its ancillary facilities, the renovation of the athletics track and hostel, Tennis, Basketball and Volleyball courts, the construction of more than 1,200 square meters of new buildings and facilities, the renewal of drainage among other facilities.
He said that they would work closely with the Sierra Leone government in implementing the important consensus reached between H.E. President Xi Jinping of China and H.E. President Julius Maada Bio, and jointly promote their cordial bilateral relations to a new high.
The Gansu Construction Investment (Holding) Group Co., Ltd (GCIGC) is the construction company that will undertake the rehabilitation of the Sierra Leone National Stadium.
Other dignitaries present at the ceremony included: Honourable members of Parliament, Project Coordinator GCIGC, The Board Chairman- National Sports Agency (NSA), Executive Director, NSA, development partners, Athletes of various sports disciplines among others.