Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sports Minister Sad Over Poor Maintenance Of Pitches In Tamale

Mahama Ayariga

Ghana’s Minister for Youth and Sports Mahama Ayariga has served notice through the media, that his ministry will take serious action against Green Grass Technology Limited (GGT) after discovering that some of the training pitches awarded on contract to the company for maintenance are unkempt.

According to him, government paid a whopping GH¢77,000.00 monthly to GGT as fee charged for the maintenance of all football training pitches across the country, but on the look of things, it seems money is being paid for shoddy or no work done. 

In an interview with journalists in Tamale after a brief tour of sports facilities in Bolgatanga and Tamale, Mr. Ayariga said: “There is a contractor who is supposed to maintain all our training pitches......all the stadia......Kumasi, Western Region, Accra......, there is a contractor in charge.......But I’m not satisfied with what I have seen. Clearly that pitch (referring to a training pitch at Tamasco) hasn’t been maintained for several months. I am going to take them on (referring to GGT)”, he declared.   

When contacted, Managing Director of GGT Frank Boahene told Savannahnews that, it was not exactly true that his company was poorly maintaining all 16 training pitches including 4 stadia awarded to him on contract.

Mr. Boahene said he and his staff had done marvellously well to continue to maintain all the pitches in spite of the fact that government had not paid him since 2012. “The GH¢77,000.00 the minister mentioned is not what I receive. They deduct VAT and 5 percent withholding tax which is over GH¢30,000.00 and so at the end it’s left with something small for me to pay my workers and cover administrative cost”, he disclosed.

Frank Boahene
He also explained that, if the minister did not see green grass during his visit to Tamasco it was because there was no water at the site to irrigate the pitches during the dry season. “National Sports Authority which is the client is supposed to supply me with water per the contract I have with them. And so if they’re not able to supply water, the grass will dry up”, Mr. Boahene noted. 

Mr. Boahene appealed to the Sports Minister to try and pay all outstanding debt owed him so that his company will continue to offer good services to the ministry and also pay his staff. “When I started, I recruited nearly 200 workers across the country to water, mow and spray all the pitches and stadia. But currently, I have just 60 workers due to constant downsizing of my workforce”, he lamented.  

The Minister’s tour of Tamale and Bolgatanga was to assess the possibility of developing some sports infrastructure in parts of those areas so as to ensure the promotion of the necessary talents which were still at fledgling stages at the colleges, universities and senior high schools. 

He said he was collaborating with Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) as well as the Regional Coordinating Councils to make available land so that in future there would not be any serious challenge with regard to building sports infrastructure. 

Mr. Ayariga’s tour in Tamale first took him to the Tamale Youth Home and Arts Centre, where he inspected volleyball and handball ball courts constructed by the Tamale Youth Volley Ball Club. 

He later visited the Tamale Senior High School (Tamasco) where he said government has plans to build a temporary Sports Academy this year for the promotion and development of fledgling talents in the various sporting disciplines. 

“The idea is that when we go through inter-school and inter-college sports competitions, we identify special talents and take them to the academy where experts from the Winneba Sports College will come and train them to develop their talents.

“.......there is a team going round and taking the land sizes and orientation so that we can agree on where to locate some of the facilities. We have some meagre budgetary allocation that can enable us start work. Apart from that, we’re also looking at corporate sponsorships”, he explained.

Chairman of the Tamale Youth Home Volleyball Club Damma Salifu appealed to Mr. Ayariga to assist the club improve upon some sections of the training facilities. “Our basketball court still needs to be worked on. We also need some assistance to provide spectator stands around the courts as well as gravel the periphery to pre-empt any injury”, he added.

In response, Mr. Ayariga commended Mr. Damma and his team for their ingenuity and promised to take on board their request in addition to plans by government to build the temporary Sports Academy at Tamasco.

The Youth and Sports Minister, who is also legislator for Bawku Central Constituency, said most of the nation’s cities and towns lacked sports infrastructure and urged MMDCEs to reserve some portions of land for the development of sports facilities in future.

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