Cape Coast Stadium, an emotional/uneconomic project.

Mon, 3 Mar 2014 Source: Yawose, John

Since President Kufuor era, Cape Coast has been clamouring for the provision of a Sports Stadium for the municipality. This burning desire apparently took it roots from the 2006 AFCON staged in Ghana and because of which Accra and Kumasi Stadia were completely rebuilt and two new Stadia were also built in Tamale and Sekondi. Cape Coast felt it also deserved one for reasons I don’t know. Perhaps to reward 'Cape', as being one of the pioneer centres of Ghana’s national football league in 1958. I know Cape very well and I don’t see how the provision of a Sports stadium is a compelling need in the municipality, where poverty, misery and lack of employment opportunities abound.

Kufuor, however responded by acquiring land in the municipality and actually gave out a contract for the construction of the Cape Coast Sports Stadium. Before then, Kufuor had finished construction of the Accra-Cape Cost Road and the Water Project at Cape Coast. I regard these two projects as very major and thrusty springboards as natural prerequisites for lifting the socio –economic and developmental plans of Cape to high heavens.

In 2008, Kufuor left the scene and President Atta Mills, a native of Central Region took charge. Then visionless Ama Benyiwah Doe became the Central Regional Minister and the two of them vowed to provide the Stadium to satisfy Cape and Central Region. That single desire became embroiled in desperation. It was as if the life of Cape Coast was dependent on a Sports Stadium. The whole thing turned political and even as to which administration – whether Kufuor or Atta Mills - started the stadium became a point of bitter contention. The cries reached a crescendo and Osabarima, Oguaahene mentioned it as a major requirement in all his speeches at all Ogua Fetu Afahye festivals with all emotions at his command as if the heavens will come down without a stadium at Cape Coast. At the same time, Cape Coast has also been clamouring for the construction of the central market called Kotokoraba market. I think that is a legitimate requirement. It is so important that it ranks in the leagues of Accra –Cape Coast and C. Coast Water Supply schemes, as far as strategic developmental necessities are concerned. Kotokoraba is one of the projects to transform the economic lives of Cape Coast and I am all for it.

I am afraid, I don’t see Cape Coast Stadium as an important project to merit all such emotional and political yelling and barking to disturb our ears. The idea is just to rival Tamale and Sekondi stadia such that it will be said Cape Coast too has got some. It is unimportant and insignificant as far as solving the problems of unemployment, lack of industries, enhancing tourism potential and generally getting the economy going in Cape and Central Region is concerned.

The facts on the ground even don’t support the mad idea to get a Cape Coast Stadium now at all cost. The Siwdu Park or Robert Mensah Stadium is serving the sporting purpose in the municipality all right. Siwdu is adequate. I have watched matches in Cape Coast since the 1970’s and 1980’s and hardly has the stadium even been half full. Tamale and Sekondi, which Cape coast is comparing itself to, pride themselves in having good stadia. Is it that the facilities there have transformed the lives of the citizens in any way? Reality check shows that the investments are not serving any useful economic purpose. Even at the height of Real Tamale United, the stadium was pathetic. It was grossly underutilized. You would count few hundreds of spectators there watching Real Tamale United. Presently, the Tamale stadium is almost in the realms of being a disaster. Essipong is no better with Hassacas, Eleven Wise or Medeama football clubs.

I suggest that even if there is the need to build a 5th stadium in Ghana then it should have been at Sunyani in Brong Ahafo, which is supported by the spectator statistics.

Fete Afahye Festival will soon come. I am sounding this advice to Osabarima, that he should sit down with his people and identify the real requirements in the region and highlight them in his address. Of course, Kotokoraba is very important and it should hold. But I am disappointed how Cape Coast Stadium has been highlighted as a major requirement in his speeches all these years. There seems to be nothing else Cape Coast wants again. The thoughts of Cape Coast Stadium seem to be outshining all other requirements and I am worried. A stadium at Cape Coast is not a priority. Whoever thinks otherwise is doing a disservice to the overall interest of Ghana.

The politics of the stadium has heated up so much that it found a pride of place and was featured in President Mahama’s sessional address to parliament last week- that construction of the Cape Coast Sports stadium which commenced in June 2013 will be completed on schedule. It was petty. The stadium will be completed; then Cape Coasters will realise that the project has no strategic value economically and that it is not a kind of project to serve as extra pillar for the municipality’s economic development, after all, despite the ugly cries which have spun through 8 years. It could even be a white elephant as Tamale and Essipong.

Scarce public funds must be used on viable ventures and I also observe that the proposed stadia at Ho and Koforidua are not priorities, just as the proposed airports at Ho and Cape Coast. These projects are just not cost -effective and will not serve any serious national economic interests, at best they qualify as projects rooted in unhelpful, emotional and political self interest grounds. NDC should show some vision and invest our oil money in urgent and important economic ventures which have the capacity to turn the economy around. I write off the proposed huge investments of new stadia at Cape Coast, Ho, Koforidua. The existing facilities there are adequate. I also write off the airports at Ho, Koforidua and Cape Coast. They are uneconomic and just political .caricatures.

John Yawose

Columnist: Yawose, John