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Zambian president lays foundation stone for new 50,000-seat stadium

LUSAKA: Zambian President Rupiah Banda has laid the foundation stone for the new state-of-the-art Lusaka Independence Stadium, which is to be constructed with the help of the Chinese government at a cost of US$94 million (RM289.52 million).

Officiating at the ground-breaking ceremony here Monday, Jan 10, which was also witnessed by visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu, Banda said the government had initially desired to start constructing the modern stadium using local resources but was unable to do so because of inadequate funds.

The president noted that in the past, Zambia had had difficulties hosting international sporting tournaments because of poor infrastructure but he was confident that once the new 50,000-seat stadium was completed, the country would be able to host international events just like South Africa, which hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

He commended the Chinese government for helping Zambia build three modern stadia in the country; in Ndola on Copperbelt province, which is expected to be completed by June this year, the planned Lusaka stadium and a third one in the country's tourist capital, Livingstone.

The president urged Zambians against vandalism of infrastructure, saying it was detrimental to national development and appealed for support for the Shanghai Construction Group, the contractor which has been assigned to build the Lusaka stadium.

The construction works for the Lusaka stadium is expected to last 30 months.

Meanwhile, Banda has predicted that Zambia would one day grab the African Cup title. Addressing soccer fans, Banda predicted that the Africa Cup was coming to Zambia in light of the earmarked construction of the modern stadiums in the country.

He observed that Zambia merely participated in the continental tournaments but failed to deliver and grab the cup because both the people and the Chipolopolo Boys including many other players were not motivated owing to poor infrastructures in the country.

Earlier, Hui disclosed that the construction of stadia in the country would make Zambia a shining example in Africa in terms of modern and quality infrastructure. — Bernama
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