Monday, 2 April 2018

Presidential 2018: This Will Be Paul Biya's Campaign Argument

The country must have six stadiums over 15,000 seats to host the football competition, but the work has been delayed.

So why bother outrageously inducing future generations of Cameroonians with a sports competition that this country is obviously unable to shelter in an efficient and politically disinterested way, just when so many other projects vital to its population are abandoned ???

Cameroon in a race against time for CAN 2019
Presidential 2018: This Will Be Paul Biya's Campaign Argument
On the outskirts of Yaoundé, Cameroon, the multi-sports complex of Olembé, which is to house a stadium of 60 000 places already named Paul Biya, two training grounds, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, a hotel and a shopping center, is teeming of people on this Saturday, March 24th. More than 1,000 people are employed there, working day and night to "get things done on time", before the African Cup of Nations (CAN) scheduled for the summer of 2019.

"The work is progressing and will be completed according to schedule," says Sam Thamin, general manager of Gruppo Piccini Cameroon, the Italian company responsible for building the complex: "Some of the stands are being installed . We will deliver the stadium and the two training grounds on December 28, 2018. The mall and the hotel will be delivered in January 2019. "

Given the" delay and very short deadlines ", the company had to readjust its organization chart, which caused, on February 17, the resignation of the project manager of the complex. To "further accelerate" the work, the company has brought thousands of tons of prefabricated materials from Italy, such as slabs, beams and bleachers.

"The building sites are deserted"
These promises do not reassure the "lovers of football" as Raoul, who, his brow wrinkled by worry, points workers who are busy. "Look at all this work done in a hurry. These stadiums should have been built in four years, not in a few months! The taxi driver grumbled. Like Raoul, many Cameroonians are wondering about the country's capacity to build the stadiums where the CAN 2019 will be played. Five times champion of Africa, the country of Indomitable Lions has hosted the largest sporting event of the continent only once, in 1972.

In Douala, the economic capital, the Japoma complex would display, according to the government daily Cameroon Tribune, a progress rate of work of 68%. "The rehabilitation of infrastructure began less than a month ago, however, notes the sports journalist Pierre Arnaud Ntchapda. On two sites, we saw gear during the first visit of inspectors of the Confederation of African Football [CAF], and then nothing. The yards have become deserted again. "
From January 12 to 23, CAF emissaries made their first inspection in Cameroon. They visited the stadiums and other infrastructures of the host cities (Yaounde, Douala, Bafoussam, Garoua, Buea and Limbe) in order to measure the progress of the works. A second inspection mission visited Cameroon from 19 to 22 March, but journalists were not allowed to cover their journeys.

"A campaign argument"
According to the specifications of the CAF, Cameroon must have six stadiums with a capacity of 15,000 to 40,000 seats. "We offer more. The least stadium that Cameroon offers has a capacity of 20,000 spectators. The one in Olembé, where the opening game will be played, is 60,000 places. Even the fact that the CAN has increased from 16 to 24 teams does not change anything: Cameroon will be ready, "swear Samuel Zo'ona Nkomo, the rapporteur of the communication committee of the CAN Organizing Committee

A famous sports commentator of the place delivers his analysis on condition of anonymity: "The government wanted to politicize this CAN, because the presidential election is coming [it is scheduled for October]. Football is the king of sport in Cameroon and we are the reigning African champions. Paul Biya and his relatives want to make a campaign argument, but they forget that they are three years behind, that the stadiums are still under construction and that summer 2019 is not far."
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