By Neto Baptiste
Minister of Sports Daryll Matthew has labelled the dilapidated WIOC double-decker stand an eyesore, adding that it is an embarrassment in need of urgent attention.
The minister, speaking recently on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, also branded the stand located at the historic Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) a potential hazard adding that all the mechanisms are in place to have the structure dismantled save for a tedious delay regarding APUA and the supplying of electricity to temporary vendors booths just outside of the venue.
“We have been very fortunate that we haven’t had any major storms as well because there are so many loose galvanise on that stand that they would invariably become projectiles. It’s at the point of embarrassing now that with all the planning and all the work that has gone into place — and yes we did have some delays because of the COVID 19 pandemic and so on — but I think we were able to overcome those delays,” he said.
“The Ministry of Works through Lennox Weston has really come through for us to ensure that the booths are there. Mr Georges and his team at West Indies Oil have remained true to their commitment to continue working with us, given their legacy involvement in the double-decker stand, and so it’s just almost vexing that we just continue to languish in this position waiting for papers to move from one place to another,” he added.
News that the stand would be dismantled first surfaced in 2018 after it had long before been deemed unsafe for public use.
However, Matthew said it is doubtful that any work will be done in the short term as the country prepares to host matches in the upcoming ICC Under-19 World Cup.
“It is unlikely that anything can be done to the ARG between now and next week. We are still in the process of ensuring that the vendors there can be transitioned and I spoke to the electricity manager at APUA just to get an update about the connection for the electricity to the vending booths that have been there for about six weeks now and my hope at the time was that by the turn of the new year they would have been in occupancy of those booths but they have not been and there is some paperwork that’s missing. I’ve asked one of my officers to personally go and deal with that paperwork because we just need to move,” the minister said.
West Indies Oil Company (WIOC), Matthew said, remains committed to playing their part in the process.
“I further confirmed with Mr Georges, the CEO at West Indies Oil that they remain committed to the financing of the demolition to the double-decker stand. The funds are in place, the selected contractor is waiting and so the ball is in the court of the government to ensure that the vendors can be safely and adequately relocated so that the demolition can start,” he said.
There have been several delays to the planned dismantling of the stand with the Covid-19 pandemic playing a major role in said delays. Salvaged wood from the stand will be used to erect seating at the YASCO Sports Complex.