Maintenance of infrastructure in the country, a huge cost to the nation?
The multi-million-dollar Essipong Sports Stadium, one of four stadia built across the country to host the 2008 African Cup of Nations, has come to symbolise the country's poor maintenance culture.
Since its construction in 2008, the stadium has not seen any major renovation. However, over the last three years, attempst to renovate it for international and local usage has stalled, revealing the lack of interest in retaining and protecting the facility.
The current state of the edifice, which was the pride of the Western Region, is best described as a national disgrace, with torn roofing structures exposing the steel frames to corrosion, a dilapilated and not fit to use washrooms, run down office spaces and hostels, among other facilities that has become an eyesore
The initial phase of renovation, which was estimated at GH17,969,447.10 at the time, was supposed to cover the replacement of existing defective roofing sheets, sandblasting corroded roofing steels, and application of a heavy-duty coating system to protect the metal structure from the mid-west to the south stand, but due to inaction, it will now cost over Ghc35 million, more than double the initial cost.
Regional economic impact
Many businesses sprung up around the Essipong stadium after it was completed, as has happened with many other major projects. To meet the needs of the thousands of fans who flocked to the stadium at least twice a week for events, hospitality facilities such as chalets, hotels, pubs, food joints, restaurants and community grocery stores were opened.
Sekondi residents also used the stadium's presence to create and provide many jobs, boosting the local economy and providing a source of income for families.
On a national scale, Essipong Stadium generated taxes for the local assembly and the state becuase of its usage by teams in the Western Region and the use of the facility for other recreational activities.
The current "miserable" state of the facility as a result has also impacted on the economic activities near the stadium and has imposed a burden on the community and the local economy.
National Sports Authority (NSA)
When asked about the current state of the stadium, the National Sports Authority, which oversees the country's sporting infrastructure, was diplomatic in its explanations, with the Director General, Professor Peter Twumasi, indicating that the first phase of renovation was currently underway but falls under the purview of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, saying “the renovation is being done by the Sports Ministry, and if you want some answers, you can go there, but what I know is that the renovation is underway.’’
Advocates argue that stadium funding is a wise public investment because game-related commerce boosts local economies by creating jobs, income, and tax revenue.
Stadiums have progressed from utilitarian concrete-and-steel structures to lavish entertainment palaces with retro-themed architecture and luxury amenities like private suites, club seating, in-stadium restaurants, and boutique concessions.
According to Global Sports Matters, stadiums typically have 30-year lifespans, with previous construction waves peaking in the United States in 1970 and 2000.
Though stadiums are long-lasting structures, the "novelty effect" of increased attendance and revenue from newer venues encourages owners to pursue them.
Forty-six major league stadiums built in the 1990s will be 30 by 2030, and the six that have already been replaced give indication of what is to come.
Given the high cost of constructing such facilities, it is the state's responsibility to ensure that such projects are constantly maintained in order to prevent them from deteriorating to the point where the cost of renovation exceeds the cost of the project itself.
As earlier stated, projects of this nature have the potential to create an entirely new economy for the locals, with far-reaching benefits for the people's lives.
The Essipong Stadium was built not only for leisure and pleasure, but also for business, with offices both inside and outside the stadium.
As a result, the state must act quickly to renovate the facility in order to save jobs and rebuild the community’s local economy.