Renovation of Liberian stadium completed

Editor:Sharon Lee
Updated:2017-08-09 14:15:41

  Extensive work on sports complex was financed by Beijing and carried out by a Chinese company

  Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, Liberia's main sports stadium, has been turned over to the government of Liberia after the completion of major renovation work funded by China and carried out by a Chinese company.

  The 35,000-seat stadium, located outside the capital Monrovia, was built in 1986 and named after the country's 21st president. It was left in ruins due to the West African nation's civil conflict, which ended in 2003.

  The first renovation, completed in 2007, was a $7.5 million project funded by China.

  The recent renovation, announced by the Liberian government in 2014, cost $18 million and was again funded by the Chinese government. The refurbishment was completed in April this year.

  Beijing is also funding the construction of a $60 million ministerial complex and arranged a $50 million loan from the China Export-Import Bank for modernization of the country's only international airport.

  At the turning-over ceremony on July 22, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described the completion of the stadium as a clear demonstration of "the birth of China's friendship with Liberia", which she said is helping to build all sectors of Liberia.

  "They (China) have supported our development agenda in all areas of our endeavor - agriculture, education, health, transportation and beyond," said Sirleaf.

  "The government of China is always with Liberia in times of trouble. When much of the world was not around, China was the first that sent a plane to be able to bring relief to us in those difficult days."

  She added that the stadium will enhance the ability of Liberian youths to realize their potential through the development of sports.

  Liberian Youth and Sports Minister Sahr N'Tow also hailed the people of China for "their kind gesture" and the cordial relationship between the two countries.

  The Charge d'Affaires at the Chinese embassy in Monrovia, Li Zhuang, who spoke on behalf of the Chinese government at the program, assured that the stadium was now ready for international matches.

  "As an old Chinese saying goes, 'a sound personality comes from a strong body' and from that perspective, this stadium is not only a place for sports activity, but also a place for igniting the spirit of competition and cooperation, solidarity and striving forward," Li said.

  Hunan Construction Engineering Group completed the renovation work in 20 months, partly due to disruption created by the Ebola virus outbreak in the country in 2014. The original plan was to complete the project in a year.

  The renovation work included the rebuilding of the stadium's steel structure and the awning of the west stand; repair of the roof, the tennis court and the soccer, athletic and training fields; rebuilding of the drainage systems; replacement of the screen and timing/scoring system; and repair of the audio and security monitoring systems.

  The writer is a journalist with Front-Page Africa based in Liberia who is visiting China Daily as part of a 10-month China-Africa Press Centre scholarship.