The renovation work at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, valued at US$18m, has been completed, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has announced.
Director of Sports Navarro Saykie told the Daily Observer over the weekend that the renovation is complete but did not say when the Chinese government will turn it over to the Liberian government.
The completion of the renovation meant that the Chinese government is a month ahead on schedule.
According to information, the VIP seats have been increased, along with seats around the VIP section; the playing pitch, lighting system, digital scoreboard as well as the sitting capacity around the field, bathrooms, among others, have also been improved.
The improved facilities also include the public address system, firefighting system, monitoring and telephone system, and the installation of multiple surveillance cameras or CCTVs.
The reconstruction of the Sports Complex became necessary because of the failure of the Ministry of Youth & Sports to manage the stadium owing to the lack of expertise to maintain the electronic scoreboard, the playing pitch and poor handling of the bathrooms.
Other reasons were the frequent problems with overcrowding, of which in 2008, eight spectators reportedly died of suffocation following a football match; and in 2014, several spectators were reported to have fainted.
The seats in the stadium were damaged; and for instance, the artificial grass on the playing pitch was badly damaged after the 2009 Women Colloquium – the 2009 International Women’s Conference.
The stadium was also used for international concerts, as well as national social, cultural, religious and political events, among others.
This would be the second time Chinese government has renovated the Sports Complex.
In September 2005, a U$7.6 million renovation was funded by China, completed in July 2007; and the stadium was officially turned over to the Liberian government as a special gift for its 160th independence anniversary.
It may be recalled that on June 24, 2011, the Liberian government and the People’s Republic of China signed a bilateral agreement regarding the maintenance of the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, the elevator at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and facilities of the University of Liberia Fendall Campus.
The agreement was signed by Chinese Ambassador to Liberia Zhao Jianhua and then Foreign Minister Dr. Toga McIntosh.
In July 2013, the Chinese government approved the funding of US$18 million for the reconstruction of the stadium. The timeline for the project implementation remained uncertain.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports, which was housed at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex for nearly nine years, was relocated to 19th Street in Sinkor in June 2014 for the start of the renovation.