By Johnny Edward.
The Federal Government has commenced the removal of the remaining floodlights inside the National Stadium, Lagos, The PUNCH reports.
This comes after one of the four floodlights’ pillar caved in from the middle, bringing down the ramshackle floodlights, following a windstorm last month.
The latest move, our correspondent gathered, is meant to avert another tragedy at the 51-year-old stadium, with the remaining giant floodlights also dilapidated.
While on an inspection of the facility after the floodlights collapsed — his third inspection in one month — outgoing minister Sunday Dare sounded a note of warning that the remaining three floodlights had also been affected by “age and weather elements., adding that the decaying sporting edifice would be temporarily closed to the public.”
“Based on my assessment, advice of experts and in the interest of public safety, the ministry will announce shortly the temporary closure of the stadium and surrounding facilities for proper assessment and necessary action,” Dare stated on Twitter
“We have decided to err on the side of caution, hence the decision to impose extensive restrictions around the stadium. We request the cooperation of anyone who this decision may inconvenience.”
While on a visit to the stadium on Thursday, our correspondent saw some engineers using a crane to dismantle one of the floodlights.
“I can’t talk about this now because I’m not authorised to speak on this. I’m just here to work, but we will finish our job before the end of the month,” one of the engineers said.
Toyin Ibiyoye, media aide to the sports minister, said he was not aware of the removal of the floodlights.
“I can’t comment on the dismantling of the floodlights, I’ve not been briefed,” Ibitoye stated.
Meanwhile, our correspondent learnt that it’s been business as usual inside the stadium, as fun seekers, athletes, visitors and petty traders alike defied the FG’s order closing down the arena.
Operators of bars, relaxation spots and restaurants, as well as petty traders inside the edifice went about their usual business tending to customers, while athletes also engaged in training sessions, some close to the dilapidated floodlights.
Some boxers and choreographers were seen training and rehearsing inside the restricted areas close to where the first floodlights mast collapsed.
Matt Daniel, a bodybuilder, said he and his colleagues defied the closure order to ensure they kept fit for survival.
“The partial closure of the stadium affected and we had no choice but to continue going in there to train daily. Most of us are bodyguards at nite clubs and some work as security personnel during the day. The closure made life difficult. The sports ministry needs to speed up the work, so that we don’t hide while training.”
A boxer, Emmanuel Chukwuma, added, “It has been tough training and keeping fit all because of the action taken after the collapsed floodlights. I want to urge the sports ministry to quickly complete the dismantling of the remaining floodlights so that athletes training for events can properly do that.”