• Ground breaking expected mid-April
If all goes according to plan Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) will soon finalise an agreement with an undisclosed financer to fund the construction of the envisaged High Performance Centre in Gaborone. BAA president Moses Bantsi revealed that they are currently in talks with a certain USA-based financier to set up the P2 billion project.
When addressing BAA affiliates recently, Bantsi said the executive committee is working round the clock to finalise the release of the funds. He, however, explained that since this will be a donation the money will not be given to them but instead the financers will pay directly to suppliers.
Pressed by the affiliates to disclose the financiers Bantsi did not budge. He pointed out that they are not in a position to divulge any information at the moment fearing sabotage. “We have not yet finalised that deal and revealing the financier could prompt some people to go behind our backs and destroy our agreement. We have done all security checks and the financier proved to be legitimate,” he said.
Nonetheless Bantsi revealed that they are expecting the response on how much will be allocated before the end of this month. He went on to say the construction of the centre is expected to have started by July 2015. According to Bantsi, the ground breaking ceremony is project is anticipated to take place mid-April.
The concept model of the centre has long been done and initially it was estimated to the cost of P300 million. Bantsi, however, revealed that with the current possible financier the cost has now been projected to P2 billion. He explained that the up-grade was prompted by the fact that when they presented their initial request the financier felt it was not an ambitious request.
“Those people told us that the money we were asking for was too low as there is a lot of money available to help finance African countries. This is why we then resolved to up-grade the project’s scope to include other sporting codes as there is sufficient funding,” he said.
He said at the moment a group of professional experts are busy with the up-grading of the concept model to include better facilities.
Among the new proposed facilities that will be included in the new concept is a five-star hotel. Since there will be sufficient funding for the project, BAA is of a view that even other sporting codes should be able to benefit from this funding. According to the president, they have engaged the Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) on the project.
“We do not anticipate any delays from our side or any other stakeholder as this donation is for a stipulated period,” acknowledged Bantsi. He said the processes would have to be fast-tracked to finish everything in time.
The building of the centre is expected to see more Batswana athletes benefiting from professional training in future. For a long time BAA and other sporting organisations have been paying a lot of money to train local athletes abroad.
On other matters Bantsi said that all these developments at BAA require the engagement of a legal expert. He revealed that the association has since sought the assistance of Reuben Lekorwe to this effect. Bantsi also pointed that Lekorwe has since agreed to be the association’s legal advisor. “This is a welcome development since the costs that we have been incurring engaging legal experts will be reduced,” he added.