|Proper ceremony due for national stadium|
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive
Published: Jun 19, 2012
There are times when, in order to do justice regarding history, certain events should be redone.
Earlier this year, on February 25, the former central administration caused a so-called opening ceremony to take place at the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The state-of-the-art facility is a gift from the People’s Republic of China. The nation that made the kind gesture saw to it that the project was completed and the handover took place as planned, in June of 2011.
Unfortunately the government of the day did not make sure that the connecting infrastructure work was done, so at the handover ceremony, the stadium was not fully operational. The local authorities had the project so far behind schedule that Christmas of 2011 came and there really was no light at the end of the tunnel.
The year 2012 dawned and seemingly the big focus for the Free National Movement (FNM) government was to use the national stadium as a showpiece to garner support. So, despite the fact that roadways were not finished, the parking lots not constructed and the sewerage system was far from completion, the
government spent the taxpayers’ money and orchestrated what amounted ultimately to a farce.
I give full credit to Cleophas Adderley and all of the assist teams that worked on the activities. They did what they had to do and the full house (some 15,000 spectators) enjoyed the affair. Yes, although, there were some glaring omissions, those in attendance had to feel some pride. I got a good feeling and held the view that having had the opening ceremony, the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture; the Ministry of Works and other sectors, would cause the remaining infrastructure work to be done in short order.
Alas, the work pace did not pick up at all and that’s when one had to seriously ponder the situation. The opening seemed to be all about looking good at general election time. The big day, May 7, came and the national stadium still sat there like an albatross, looming large but virtually a dead item. Today, a year to the month since the handover, the stadium that had an “official opening ceremony” in February, is still not fit to function as intended.
The sewerage system is the Achilles heel of the project. The track is not certified and neither is the soccer field. There are no areas for vendors. There is no media work area. All such facilities around the world are constructed with a media area/center than enables those on assignment to be able to process coverage material directly to their newspaper, radio and television bases.
It’s really one big farce, about to become a great embarrassment. Such situations are the reason why the warning “be careful what you wish for” has resonated through the ages. The present Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Government has inherited this and many other problems and the electorate expects them all to be addressed to satisfaction.
Accordingly the huge challenge of getting the stadium ready to host events adequately, confronts the new central administration. Obviously the network the previous government had in place failed miserably. Even with a special committee, inclusive of the then ministers of works, environment and youth, sports and culture coming together in regular meetings (I understand), the progress was dismal.
This present government must now put the right nucleus to work so that in the near future the national stadium will be able to host all events, local, regional and international, appropriately. There ought to be a solid concentration on getting the facility fully suitable for operation.
Then, the new powers that be should redo what the previous government did and stage a proper opening ceremony befitting a facility of its kind and doing justice to the Bahamian people. Also, make sure that the major contributors are on hand and saluted for the significant roles they played.
Along with the present Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson, all of those who formerly monitored the national stadium (on behalf of the various governments), Neville Wisdom, Byran Woodside, Desmond Bannister, and yes, even Charles Maynard, should be showcased because of their efforts from 2005 to present.
Among the special invitees should be the Original Golden Girls (Pauline Davis-Thompson, Chandra Sturrup, Eldece Clarke, Savatheda Fynes and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie); quartermiler Tonique Williams-Darling, the only Bahamian in our history who has been an individual World and Olympic champion; world champion high jumpers Troy Kemp and Donald Thomas; 2001 World Champion in the men’s 400m Avard Moncur; first track and field Olympic medalist, triple jumper Frank Rutherford; other living world champions such as Kingsley Poitier and Glen Wells of bodybuilding; Sir Durward Knowles of sailing; and Mychal Thompson and Rick Fox of basketball.
It must be done right. Of course, the man, the legendary one the national stadium is named in honor of, Thomas Robinson, should be allowed to say a few words during the ceremony to the people of The Bahamas and yes, the wider world through technology. He wasn’t granted that simple courtesy by then Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard.
Prime Minister Perry Christie certainly has a full plate, but this is one of the ways to prove without a doubt that he is ready to spearhead quality causes and make some really fine things happen during this second time around, for him as the nation’s leader.
To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org.