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$14m multipurpose Sports Hall Collapses At UJ Esuene Stadium Calabar

Orok Duke

Orok Duke

From Dianabasi Effiong

 

A major disaster was averted in Calabar, Cross River State on Good Friday when an uncompleted multipurpose Indoor Sports Hall at the U. J. Esuene Sports Stadium collapsed.
 
The structure, which contract was awarded for $14 million (N2.2 billion) to serve as one of the facilities to host the 19th National Sports Festival by the state.
 

The National Sports Festival (NSF) holds this year, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung has said.The festival, supported by the National Sports Commission for athletes from the 36 States of Nigeria, was originally billed to hold in 2014 but had suffered several postponements.

The festival, started in 1973 at the National Stadium, Surulere in Lagos, involves all indoor and outdoor sports as a “unifying tool’’.

Its main purpose include the promotion of peace and cross-cultural affiliation in Nigeria after the Nigerian Civil War in 1970.

An eyewitness, who sought to remain anonymous, said the structure, handled by Henley Brecon and Mayfield Limited, collapsed soon after a clean up exercises in the uncompleted building.

 
“You can see those pile of woods over there. It was just taken out from the building in a bid to clean the place up, but barely had the people cleaning the place stepped out that we heard a loud crash and everything came down.
 
“It was really fortunate and I would say God just saved them. It is also fortunate that today being a public holiday most people, especially children, did not come to the stadium, else we would have had a major disaster on our hands,” the eye witness who did not want to be named said.
 
Reacting to the development, Chairman of the State Sports Commission, Orok Duke, said it was unfortunate that the contractor who had not completed the job after being fully paid $14 million upfront, still used substandard materials for the job.
 
Duke, however, said the development would not discourage the state’s determination to host the sports festival.
 
He said: “What I have discovered is that the contractors to this project have used substandard materials and it is showing because this structure has been here for not more than three years but what we should note is that this structure was erected before the advent of Prof Ben Ayade’s government.
 
“And in keeping with our policy of trying to reposition sport, I had asked for permission to go after the contractor, but my principal the governor had said he does not want to be distracted.
 
“We should cut our losses and move on because he was still focusing on hosting the national sports festival. So he felt actually that probes and all that would distract him.
 
“So we decided to move on and as you are aware, we had gone to other sports and we are trying to work out ways to do without this structure by finding other alternative venues.
 
“The most frightening thing is the discovery of these substandard materials which means this was a tragedy waiting to happen.
 
“If it hadn’t happened now, maybe it would have happened when we had a full house with a lot of athletes.
 
“Being Good Friday, I can say that God just intervened because a lot of people would have been killed, especially now lots of children come to the stadium.

“This structure was supposed to be here for over 200 years. So we are really stunned about this development.
 
“This has not dealt a blow on the state’s chances of hosting the national sports festival. We had gone ahead and considered the huge sum that was required of us to finish this project and we had also gone ahead to look for alternative venues for the festival. We were considering the emporiums in Tinapa. So this was totally out of it. 
 
“The original design of the indoor sports hall had two ovals. So money was given for two ovals, but he started work on one and could not even complete it. Even at that, substandard materials were still used. It is only in Cross River that sundry contractors would walk in, cheat us and walk away without anyone going after them. It is sad for us.”
 
$14m multipurpose Sports Hall Collapses At UJ Esuene Stadium Calabar