A major disaster which would have claimed lives and left many severely injured was averted in Calabar, the Cross River state capital, when an uncompleted multipurpose indoor sports hall at the U. J. Esuene Sports Stadium collapsed.
The incident happened at a time when the children’s competition taking place in the stadium was suspended to observe the Easter Holiday as more than 2000 children would have been crushed to death.
The structure was supposed to be one of the facilities to host the National Sports Festival by the State, which was awarded for 14 million Dollars.
Reacting on the unfortunate development, Chairman of the State’s Sports Commission, Mr Orok Duke, blamed the incident on the Contractor who besides not completing the job after being fully paid 14 million Dollars upfront, still used substandard materials.
The indoor Sport hall Chairman said, the stadium was awarded by the immediate past administration and has been under construction for over two years.
“What I have discovered is that the contractors to this project have used substandard materials and it is showing because this structure has been here for not more than three years but what we should note is that this structure was erected before the advent of Prof Ben Ayade’s government.
“And in keeping with our policy of trying to reposition sports, I had asked for permission to go after the contractor, but my principal, the governor had said he does not want to be distracted. We should cut our losses and move on because he was still focusing on hosting the National Sports Festival.
“The most frightening thing is the discovery of these substandard materials which means this was a tragedy waiting to happen.
“If it hadn’t happened now, maybe it would have happened when we had a full house with a lot of athletes.
“Being Good Friday, I can say that God just intervened because a lot of people would have been killed, especially now lots of children come to the stadium. This structure was supposed to be here for over 200 years. So we are really stunned about this development.
“The original design of the indoor sports hall had two ovals. So money was given for two ovals, but he started work on one and could not even complete it. Even at that, substandard materials were still used. It is only in Cross River that sundry contractors would walk in, cheat us and walk away without anyone going after them. It is sad for us”, Mr Duke said.
Mr Duke further called on relevant agencies to thoroughly look into the matter and act accordingly in order to serve as a deterrent.