THE rehabilitation of the tartan track at Setsoto Stadium has started in preparation for the upcoming African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games.
The games will be held in Maseru from 3 to 12 December 2021. This after they were postponed last year on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The stadium will be used to host athletics activities as well as the games’ opening and closing ceremonies.
The track replacement is being undertaken by a South African company, CK Industries. CK Industries is an agent for Conica AG, a Swiss high-end sports facility developer.
CK Industries site agent, Keith Van Tonder, told the Lesotho Times this week that the works were expected to be completed in December.
“We have been on the site since last Wednesday and we are working daily,” Van Tinder said.
“The plan is to finish the work by early December. We are working on a tight schedule but we are confident that we can do it.”
The project is however, only for the track and not the soccer turf.
“The current soccer field is synthetic and it is not ideal for throwing athletics events like javelin, discus and shot put. So, work will be needed next to the stadium to build and install a javelin run-up, shot put circles and a discus cage,” he added.
On the other hand, the games local organising committee (LOC) deputy chairperson, Mohale Mabaleha, said now that the work at Setsoto stadium has started, works would soon commence in other facilities that will be used for the games.
“It is true that the work as Setsoto stadium have started and the other facilities like national lawn tennis courts, Rapokolana High-Altitude Training Centre as well as our two games’ villages at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) will soon follow.
“Most of the work to be done in these facilities will not take long because it is only about renovations and a few touch-ups to upgrade them so that they can meet the required standards,” Mabaleha said.
He said their initial plan was to replace the artificial turf at Setsoto Stadium hoping they would use it for the games. However, the track replacement cannot be done concurrently with the turf installation.
“We will have to find another company to install a new turf because CK Industries only specializes in tracks. Also, the work cannot be done concurrently.
“And due to limited time, we have decided to use the field as it is. Since we already have money allocated, we will replace the turf in January after the games,” he said.
Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation Minister, Likeleli Tampane, last week confirmed to this publication’s sister paper, the Sunday Express, that her ministry had received M99 million as part of the games’ budget.
However, the overall budget approved by the government to host the games is M250 million.
The larger chunk of money is earmarked for renovation of the already existing sporting facilities in the country including Setsoto Stadium as well as to prepare the local team for the games.