THE Chinese contractor awarded a tender to build the much-talked-about K17 billion swimming pool has finally moved on site at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka.
And Government has assured the nation that the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Youth Games would be successfully hosted in the capital city from December 4 to 17.
Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili said nothing would distract the Government from ensuring that the Games were held as scheduled, adding that the Patriotic Front administration and the local organising committee (LOC) do not believe in failure.
Kambwili said this when he inspected the preliminary construction works for the Olympic-size swimming pool and facilities at the National Sports Development Centre (NASDEC) in Lusaka yesterday.
He said he was happy that Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group (SOGECOA) had already moved on site despite being handed the site last week on Friday.
Kambwili said the delay was due to the long tender process to select the contractor.
The minister was in the company of his Permanent Secretary Agnes Musunga, LOC officials led by chairperson Essau Nebwe, Sports Council of Zambia (SCZ) acting general secretary Man Muchimba and board members Elliot Mhende and Mwamba Kalenga, and OYDC director Clement Chileshe, among others.
Kambwili said the Government had no doubt that the contractor would be able to complete the works within the shortest possible time.
The Government has confidence in the contractor because of the good track record it exhibited when building the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
Kambwili said the initial cost of the swimming pool was less than K7 billion but went up due to freight charges of materials and equipment needed to quickly construct the facility.
The Government was given a three per cent discount from the K17 billion charged, he said.
He said OYDC was chosen as the place where the pool should be built because it has enough space and it would be looked after well due to various activities that take place at the centre as compared to NASDEC that is dormant and has no budget to maintain infrastructure.
"I want to emphasise that Zambia is committed to hosting the Games. The preparations are on course in terms of rehabilitation of infrastructure and other things are in place in respect of hosting the Games.
"The construction of the Olympic-size swimming pool is also a clear demonstration that Government attaches great importance to all sport disciplines as this is in line with the existing national policy. Above all, the PF (Patriotic Front) party manifesto advocates for the promotion and development of sport in the country," Kambwili said.
He said Zambia had great potential in swimming as evidenced in the regional tournaments where swimmers had performed well, while at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Jade Howard managed to beat her personal best, an indication that the future was bright.
And SOGECOA general manager, Chen Ju assured Kambwili that works would be completed on time, the latest being early November.
He said more equipment was on its way to ensure the work load at the site was doubled.
Kambwili said he was happy that works at both the OYDC and NASDEC were in full swing and that soon he would visit the University of Zambia (UNZA) which is supposed to be the Games Village.
Construction of hostels is already underway at OYDC which would be used to camp Zambian athletes ahead of the Zone Six Games while at NASDEC, the contractor has started building changing rooms at the tennis and netball courts.
The NASDEC sports hall is undergoing a facelift while Sunset Stadium, home of Zanaco Football Club, changing rooms would be extended.
At Nkoloma Stadium which would host the official opening and closing ceremonies, including football matches, no works have started yet.
Kambwili said the Government was waiting to hear from the UNZA senate concerning the closure of the institution to pave the way for renovation and construction works.
He urged students to avoid being used by misguided politicians in opposing the closure to allow for the works.
Kambwili said students had for a long time bemoaned the poor standards of the university and as such should appreciate the efforts Government was making in ensuring that UNZA was upgraded to acceptable standards.