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Four Years After Police Games, Anambra Govt Announces Stopgap Closure of Ekwueme Square, Gives Reason

 

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

The Anambra State Government has announced the impermanent closure of the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka.

The State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Paul Nwosu, disclosed this in a statement issued to newsmen on Tuesday, June 4, in which he also said the Square, which has served as both event venues and and training centres for sports and physical training lovers, would remain closed a couple of months.

According to him, the decision is as a result of the ongoing transformational reconstruction of the popular Square by Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo.

“For this reason, the arena will be closed to the public until this exercise is completed in a couple of months.

“Government regrets any inconveniences this could cause Ndi Anambra who flock there every morning and evening to engage in recreational sports or body exercises to be healthy,” Commissioner Nwosu said.

It would be recalled that the Anambra State Executive Council, at its meeting of Monday, December 18, 2023, approved the release of the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty-Nine Million, SixtyTwo Thousand, Sixty-Two Naira, Sixty-Eight Kobo (N969,062,062.68m) for the construction of the four lots in the modernization of the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka.

According to the government authority, Lot 1 of the contract, which includes the Covered Grandstand 3 was awarded to Pazim Engineering Ltd. at the sum of N672,626,359.00 with a completion period of five months; while Lot 2 which takes care of the Cenotaph Tower was awarded to Lawrez Associates Ltd at the sum of N98,467,752.79 with a completion period of four months.

“Lot 3, for the Recreational Garden/Landscaping & Iconic Water Fountain, went to Mesja Technology Ltd at the cost of N110,780,638.39 with four months completion period; while G.E.C. Shelter Services will handle Lot 4 (Relocation of External Fence and Construction of Gates) at the cost of N87,287,312.50. The job will be completed within four months period,” the state government announced after the meeting.

This reporter, Izunna Okafor, also gathered that the State Commissioner for Housing Hon. Pauly Onyeka, had, in February 2024, during the official handover of the project site to the contractors, charged them to turn the Square into a centre of attraction comparable to any other around the world.

The Commissioner explained that the goal of the government is to transform the old event centre into a decent, world-class facility, in line with Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s desire to make Anambra a livable and progressive state.

“We will not accept excuses. What we need here is an event centre of global standards.

“Mr Governor is poised to ensure that our people get value for every kobo being spent by the government.

“I want you to work with this in mind. Give us the best that can be showcased anywhere around the world,” Commissioner Onyeka said, while also directing other contractors to promptly execute the job in accordance with specifications, to be able to meet the deadline set by the government.

The ongoing reconstruction is coming few years after the immediate-past administration of Governor Willie Obiano had, in 2019, awarded the contract for reconstruction of the same Square, which was hurriedly done in preparation for the 12th Biennial Nigeria Police Game (2020 Police Game) that was hosted by the state between February 29 to March 7, 2020 at the Square.

Some of the projects commenced at the Square by the former administration ahead of the Police Games, were, however, abandoned.

One of such is the swimming pool hurriedly that was then hurriedly built but thereafter abandoned, resulting in alleged increased breeding and popular explosion for mosquitoes in the area, emerging from the stagnant water in the abandoned swimming pool, as was then complained by some workers at the nearby State Judiciary headquarters, the Federal High Court, and the State House of Assembly, on whom the mosquitoes daily fed, before the commencement of the ongoing reconstruction and modernization of the Square.

Located at the heart of the capital city, Alex Ekwueme Square (popularly known as Ekwueme Square) is a public arena and outdoor event centre, named after the Anambra-born first civilian Vice President of Nigeria, Dr Alex Ekwueme, under former Governor Peter Obi.

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