Africa : The Africa Cup of nations will be held, wether workers are done or not - AFCON Organizers

Yaounde, Cameroon - The Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on January 9 at the Olembe Stadium in Cameroon's capital, Yaounde.

On Monday, the President of the Confederation of African Football, Patrice Motsepe, visited the 60,000-seat stadium, which is still under construction just three weeks before the opening match no matter what.

Motsepe said the workers at the stadium were improving and were optimistic that Cameroon would be ready for the opening.

"There is a lot of commitment and focus to ensure that some of the issues that are addressed in the next few days go well," he said. "My message to Africa and the world is that Cameroon is ready to show the world the best of African football and the best of African hospitality. This will be a successful AFCON so January 9th should be the starting point."

Motzepe's visit comes amid constant reports in the local media that the Olembe Stadium will not be ready.

Bulldozers dug and paved the road at the stadium entrance on Tuesday, the day after Motsepe's visit. Several dozen young people transported and planted trees, flowers and grass, which authorities said would beautify the complex.

Among the workers is 35-year-old civil engineer Luke Elondu. Elondu said he was unsure whether the entire stadium parking lot would be ready within a week as requested by the Cameroonian government.

“Last month we were about 1,000 people here, but now I see up to 300. Workers don't come. Why? You work without money. Some take money to come and work, but they have no salary. The work is a lot, even after more than a year we will not be able to finish the work,” he said.

Jean Fradic, the stadium's technical director, said 2,000 workers had been hired to ensure the stadium was ready for the opening match before they attended the joint CAF/FIFA inspection mission.

According to Fradik, workers are preparing a parking lot that will take football fans, players and officials to matches at the stadium. The massive mobilization of more than 2,000 workers and several hundred seals and construction equipment in the last two months testifies to Cameroon's willingness to get the job done within a week.

Construction of the stadium began in March 2017. The government said the facility would be ready for AFCON in 2020. However, in January 2020, CAF postponed the tournament for a year and said Cameroon was not ready.

CAF postponed the tournament again due to the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2021.

Local media in Cameroon said the tournament could be postponed again between COVID-19 and construction delays. Currently the CAF says the tournament is ongoing.

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka

Source : All Africa

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