The Eenhana sports complex, which has been under construction for almost ten years, is nearing completion and will be in the hands of the Sports Ministry by June of this year.
This was revealed by the Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service Agnes Tjongarero in the National Assembly while replying to queries about sport facilities in the country raised by Popular Democratic Movement member of parliament Reggie Diergaardt.
The development of the sports facility, which began in 2009 with a land grant of more than 10 hectares from the Eenhana Town Council, has been going at a snail’s pace.
“I am pleased to inform honourable members that we are finally nearing completion of this important project,” Tjongarerosaid.
The Minister also stated that the sports facility will be officially handed over to the Ministry by 30 June 2023.
The Eenhana Sport Complex was primarily designed to solve the country’s chronic dearth of sports facilities, particularly in the north.
It was reported in 2020 that the Ministry had budgeted N$18.5 million for the 2020/21 fiscal year for the development of phase 5 of the sports complex.
The completion of phase 2 of the complex was hampered by funding restrictions during the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years, resulting in the Ministry fully freezing the phase.
The resumption of construction occurred in mid-2013, followed by the completion of portions of phase 3.
Furthermore, phase 4 of the complex was supposed to begin in 2014, but fundswere diverted to the hosting of the 2014 CAF Women’s Championship, which was estimated to cost Namibia N$80 million.
Tjongarero responded to a question about why developing sports facilities for the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) competition is a top concern.
According to her, the Ministry is not only focusing on the 2027 Afcon tournament.
“Our plan for upgrading and renovating sports facilities started a long way back before the announcement of our intention to bid for the 2027 Afcon,” she said.
She noted that, like any other government, the Ministry faces resource constraints, and that it is critical for the Ministry to prioritise some sports stadiums.
“Independence Stadium is one of them, and now with the 2027 Afcon bid, it is very crucial that we start with the process,”the Minister explained.
This comes after Namibia withdrew its application to co-host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament with Botswana earlier this month.
Tjongarero stated in a letter to Botswana that the Namibian government has withdrawn their application to co-host the Afcon event due to financial constraints.
She also noted that the Ministry is in the process of implementing its maintenance plan to begin restoring and updating most sports facilities.
She added that the budget for the Independence Stadium was not provided for the 2027 Afcon, but that funds were made available to ensure that the stadium meets the requirements for all football teams to play at home.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) concluded in 2021 that Namibian stadiums were unfit for international football and fined the Namibia Football Association (NFA) US$6,000 for the absence of technical equipment at Sam Nujoma stadium.
“As for renovating the Independence Stadium for the 2027 Afcon bid, we have not yet started as the consultant appointed to carry out the facility audit completed its work on February 24, 2023,” she said.
This report, the Minister said, was expected to be completed by the end of March this year.
“Once we get this report, we will then implement the way forward in terms of upgrades and renovations.”
Tjongarero concluded that the Ministry has never been oblivious to the state of sports facilities.
“We have always taken care of our facilities,” she said.