Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Dai Qingli said yesterday China is sorry to see the condition of Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, which it gifted to The Bahamas just over a decade ago, and a process to approve funding for repairs is currently underway.
“China is committed to renovating this stadium and we are sorry to see that the stadium is not in [a] perfect state because of lack of maintenance for the past seven, eight years and for various other reasons,” she told reporters after presenting a donation of flat screen televisions to the House of Assembly.
“We are very keen to work with The Bahamas government to fully renovate the stadium and to present a new and world-class facility for the Bahamian people.”
The stadium, which was the site of the 50th Oaktree CARIFTA Track and Field Championships over the Easter holiday weekend, has deteriorated substantially in recent years.
Last week, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg said the last estimate placed the value of needed repairs at $30 million.
He said several meetings have taken place between Bahamian government and Chinese Embassy officials on the matter.
When asked whether China was on board with the stadium repairs, the Chinese ambassador said, “Yes, indeed. We have been engaged with The Bahamas government in terms of the repair and renovation of the Thomas Robinson National Stadium and we are having these positive discussions and are taking things forward.
“We have received the project proposal from The Bahamas government in August last year. In that proposal, they propose a certain scale of funding that is needed and in China we are now going through the process of looking at the scale of the project and looking at the funding that is necessary.
“So, this process is still ongoing, so the scale of work, the scope of work and also the funding scale will be determined as we progress with these approval procedures.”
Bowleg said much of the deterioration of the stadium was due to the fact that the material used to construct it was not compatible with the Bahamian climate.
“We just see a deterioration of the facility very quickly because of the lesser quality of materials used from the onset when the stadium was constructed,” he said.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be put into that facility to bring the facility up to standard. What we want is [a facility that] can sustain itself in this atmosphere, this climate here in The Bahamas.”
Bowleg said the stadium’s ceiling is rusting and the entire roof needs to come off.
“That’s a part of that $30 million that we spoke about that could end up being much more,” he told The Nassau Guardian last week.
He said, “The government does not at this time intend to fund 100 percent of this but try to receive assistance from the People’s Republic of China who made it known that they are still interested.”
Bowleg indicated that the Chinese want to bring in Chinese workers for the project, something he said the government is against.