By Joseph Aigbonosumua
Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Lagos State Governor on Thursday evening visited the popular Maracana football stadium in Ajegunle, assuring that the plan to transform the facility to a world class multi-purpose sports complex, that would help teeming youths harness their natural talents in a positive way would commence soon.
Ambode, who spoke to scores of residents, especially youths who came out to listen to him, said though his administration had planned to embark on the transformation of the arena before now, the design was now ready while the contractor was set to move to site.
“The last time I came here, I promised that I was going to do something in this arena. I am not happy that after three years of my administration, the reconstruction of the Maracana stadium is yet to commence.
“However, the design is ready, the contractor is here, and they will start the work and as you have also promised to cooperate. If you go to Onikan stadium, you would see that we are rebuilding it to world class standard, by January it would be completed. The same contractor working on Onikan stadium is the same that would handle the Maracana Stadium,” he said.
The governor, who was also received by the dancehall music artiste, Daddy Showkey, also promised that aside the standard football pitch, the new complex would have a Volleyball Court, Tennis Court, Swimming Pool, Track and Field area, Events Centre and facilities for other sports and recreational activities.
He said the contractor had also been given the mandate to address the challenge of flooding, which was posing serious challenge for children going to school due to the waterlogged area.
“I have also told the contractor that because of the children in this area, there would be an event centre here so that social activities can also hold here. All the schools around here, we know that there is a challenge of flood disturbing them and we are not happy about it, so, the same contractor would do the whole drainage in this area and because of the road, we would do a jetty behind so that we can use the ferry to bring athletes and sports people to this place.
Ambode, however, appealed to residents to cooperate with the State Government on the plans to transform the area, adding that when the facility is in place and handed over to them, they must go all out to protect it from vandalisation.
Earlier, giving an insight to the plan of work for the Maracana football ground, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Adebowale Akinsanya, said the new multi-purpose sports complex would accommodate all kinds of sports, including an administrative building, and a bus terminal to bring athletes to and fro the complex.
Akinsanya explained that work would also be carried out on the access road leading to the stadium, while the drainage system would be improved upon to permanently address the issue of flooding.
“There would be administrative building and other complex here. In addition to these, we would do rehabilitation of the access roads because it is very key to getting into the stadium. What we want to do is to discourage people driving in, instead they would take buses to come in. So, there would be a small terminal for buses to come in. In addition as well, we are doing a jetty across, a shoreline protection and the jetty would be functional 24 hours.
“One of the key things is the school itself, where we are is very swampy and the school side is always waterlogged, so one of the things we are looking at is to improve the ground there and provide drainage so that children can go to school without worrying about flood.
Akinsanya said they were also in talks with the Ministry of Education to improve on the facilities in the 58 schools located within the area.
“Part of your mandate is that we need to do something to accommodate the children, so we would do it and other additional things we need to do, we would get input from the community. We have engaged them before, but we would continue to engage them and get this going quickly,” he said.
Also speaking, Chairman of Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area, Mr. Ayoola Fatai, thanked the Governor for visiting and promising to commence the transformation of the Stadium and the infrastructure within the area, assuring that residents would cooperate to make the project a reality.