By Leo Okachie
The Commissioner for Information in Abia, Chief John Okiyi, has said that the government’s plan for Enyimba International FC to return to Enyimba Stadium, Aba this month was no longer feasible.
Okiyi made the disclosure while speaking with newsmen on the extent of job so far done on the reconstruction of the stadium’s playing turf on Friday in Umuahia.
He said that 98 per cent of the installation of a new turf, worth 1billion euro, had been completed.
The contract is being handled by the Bayelsa-based Monimichelle Group.
The commissioner said that the pitch was ready but that the entire contract had only reached 80 per cent completion.
He said that the larger contract included the construction of tartan tracks and re-roofing of the stands.
Okiyi said that Enyimba would return to the stadium in September, when the entire job would have been fully completed.
“Of course, the team needs to train and practice on the new turf for at least four months before hosting their home matches at the facility.
“But if the team can be made to play closed door, I can assure you that the pitch is ready for them because the contractor has completed his job by 98 per cent.
“The remaining two per cent is for him to mount the imported goalposts and nets,” Okiyi said.
He said that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) would inspect the facility and give it’s approval before it would be open for matches.
The commissioner said that government had also constructed 32 public toilets at the facility and four additional entrance/exit gates to bring the number to 12.
He added that there was no immediate plan to expand the 20,000 sitting capacity of the stadium.
Okiyi said that the stadium would be relocated to Osisioma in the future when development had moved to the area.
“For the first time in the history of the stadium, public toilets are being provided for spectators.
“Before now, people usually littered the surroundings of the stadium with faeces, especially on match days,” he said.
Okiyi said that the frontage of the stadium would also receive a facelift.
“The people’s elephant,” as the Aba-based premier league side is fondly called, relocated to U.J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar, in 2016 for all its Nigerian Professional Football League and Continental home matches.