Downgraded and dilapidated, the once-renowned Windhoek Independence Stadium is now on the verge of becoming a white elephant after the City of Windhoek recently disconnected electricity at the 25 000-seater national sport facility.
The stadium, along with the Sam Nujoma Stadium, were both downgraded and declared unfit to host international football matches by Fifa and Caf due to their decaying state and outdated facilities.
Their downgrading has since led to the country’s various national teams playing their international matches in South Africa.
As a result, a clearly irked finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi during this year’s tabling of the national budget announced that government would allocate N$50 million towards the upgrading and renovation of the Independence Stadium, as it was shameful and no longer financially feasible for the national teams to play their home matches on foreign soil. But to date, no renovations and upgrading have taken place at the Independence Stadium and no concrete updates or public announcements have been coming from the sports ministry on why reconstruction work has not yet started. To compound matters, the New Era Sports team recently visited the stadium and discovered that electricity at the venue was disconnected, which has hamstrung the operations of vital institutions such as the Namibia Schools Sports Union (NSSU) and others who run their operations from the venue.
This publication spoke to general workers who do maintenance work at the facility and they all confirmed that the stadium has been without electricity for over three months now and that sports organisations that operate from there have since temporarily moved their operations elsewhere. “We don’t know what is happening up there with our leaders. None of us have an idea why there is no electricity at the stadium, but that has been the situation for the past three months or so,” said one of the general workers who asked not to be mentioned.
NSSU forced to work from home
NSSU national coordinator Solly Duiker said they have temporarily moved the union’s operations to his personal homestead in order to keep the office up and running.
“Yes, I can confirm. We have had no electricity for over three months now and I have been working from my home trying to keep the office running since there is no power at the stadium where our offices are based. The situation has made my work very difficult because I am now forced to use my own personal resources. It has not been smooth at all, as some operations need to be done there at the office,” said Duiker. On enquiry, the sports ministry’s executive director Mbumba Erastus Haitengela admitted that they are aware of the situation at the stadium and have been working to rectify all issues.
He explained that there was a delay in making payment to the City of Windhoek and that led to the disconnection of electricity at the venue. “There was a delay from our side to settle the bill and this led to the unfortunate situation of disconnection. We are aware of the situation and working towards ensuring that the electricity is restored,” said Haitengela in his response to New Era Sport.
Asked when the public and local sports federations can expect reconnection of electricity, Haitengela said the ministry is currently working out a payment plan with the municipality and anticipates that electricity will soon be restored.
“The ministry is working on a utility payment plan with the municipality, which is aimed at reducing the excessive utility bill at the stadium. This was an unfortunate situation, but we are working on a proper plan to address all delays in settling utility bills.”
In a separate conversation, sports minister Agnes Tjongarero said she was not aware of electricity disconnection at the stadium, but maintained that government remains fully committed to upgrading the stadium as announced earlier this year.
“We still have plans of revamping the stadium, which includes everything. But on the power cut issue, I am really not aware of such a situation. Maybe our executive director will be in the best position to answer that one. But as for the revamping and other upgrades, the ministry remains fully committed and work will soon commence,” said the minister.