Infrastructure and equipment are integral to the development of skills anywhere in the world, as they, to a larger extent, complement whatever human and capital investment that will go into the growth of the system.
Both elements will continue to set standard and measuring adherence to targets set in any catch-ups at the grassroots level, and the build-ups at the grooming and nurturing levels, up to the higher level.
This realization was instrumental to the change in sports development initiative by the current administration in Kwara state, with the renovation and upgrading, as well as the construction of new sports facilities at the Kwara State Stadium Complex, Ilorin, and other Local Governments Areas.
As part of the renovation being championed by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq was the ongoing renovation of the long abandoned Swimming Pool at the Complex, which is currently almost 100 percent completion, and new additions to the sports infrastructure, in the ongoing construction of eight Glass-Back Squash Courts, the first in the country, as well as the ongoing construction of the Knock-up Table Tennis Hall.
Over eight years after dropping to the state of disrepair, the Swimming Poll of the Kwara State Stadium Complex is back to life, following the massive intervention of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
The Governor, in February 2021, approved the total renovation of the Swimming Pool. The state government, on February 8th, 2021, on Twitter, announced the commencement of the renovation of the abandoned facility. The statement on the verified handle of the state government read: ‘the renovation work is targeted at making the facility a state of the art in line with global standards’.
The Kwara state swimming pool was constructed and commissioned in 1989 by the then Military Governor, Group Captain Ibrahim Alkali.
The Swimming Pool Complex comprises of: a standard diving pool, an Olympic size (50m by 25m) competition pool, a 25m by 15m training pool, which can also be used for schools’ swimming initiative and grassroots development, dressing/changing cubicles, a standard restaurant, toilet facilities, seating gallery for about 800 spectators, offices and stores.
As at the time of been re-awarded for renovation, the standard pool and the diving pools needed vacuuming, cleaning, refilling and treatment, while the other components needed total renovation.
According to available records, the Swimming Pool was constructed in 1989 at the cost of N19million.
Governor AbdulRazaq’s effort at bringing it back to life was the third, after failed attempts between 2013 and 2017, when about N36million was budgeted by the state government for the renovation of the facility. But those efforts caused more damages to the facility. The swimming poll was badly damaged due to incomplete work done by the contractors.
It’s also on record that Hotline Swimeco Agents (Nigeria) Limited was contracted to renovate the facility in 2013.
The engine room was vandalized in the name of repairs, the electrical control board dismantled, tiles on the pool wall and floors damaged, and the pool lights removed.
The facility was first awarded for renovation in 2009, but the renovation was not achieved, with more damages caused to the swimming pool because most of the equipment were dismantled, and some gadgets, which included the underwater pool lights were removed and not replaced, in anticipation of additional funds to be requested for by the contractor, which, according to records, was not approved.
That was because the initial funds released then were not adequately accounted for, as the work done as at that time was not commensurate with the funds already released.
Owing to that development, the pool cannot be used to its full capacity, with only the 25m pool that was operational.
The government of Mallam AbdulRazaq had earlier demonstrated its resolve to renovate and construct more facilities at the Stadium Complex, by awarding the contract for the construction of eight glass back Squash Courts, and the renovation of the existing two glass back Squash courts, renovation of the twin volleyball and basketball courts, handball courts, construction of handball dressing rooms, offices and toilets, award of contract for the construction of a table tennis hall, as well as gradual renovation of the Kwara Football Academy Hostels.
Governor AbdulRazaq paid an unscheduled visit to the swimming pool during one of his occasional inspection of facilities at the Stadium Complex. And in February 2021, the swimming pool was re-awarded for total renovation to Aishruk Global Investments Limited.
Kwara state government aims to enhance the discovery of talents through which the state’s revenue generation will be boosted. The facility, when in full operation, will attract regional, national and international competitions.
Before now, the facility had hosted many competitions, such as the 4th National age-group Swimming competition in 2002, and the 5th edition of the event in 2003, and the National team’s camping for the Olympic qualifiers in Algiers in April 2004. It had also hosted Military and Para-Military Games as well as Swimming Officiating Courses.
From 2015 when the National Youth Games in being hosted by the University of Ilorin, the Swimming Pool has always been used for the swimming and aquatic competitions. It equally hosted the 3rd Chief of Naval Staff Swimming Championship in 2011, among others.
According to the Executive Chairman of the Kwara State Sports Commission, Mallam Bolakale Adisa Mogaji while inspection the level of work done so far, he said that the job has been completed up to at least 98 percent, but suffers setback due to flooding occasioned by heavy rain in November.
“If not for the heavy rain that caused the flood that affected the pool that occasioned a setback, the contractors are about putting final touches to the facility. We have to go back again, for vacuuming and cleaning, because the engine room was flooded. What happened was natural. We plan to have a bigger drainage at the back of the fence, to control the flooding.
“The pool was abandoned for more than 15 years, and nothing was working. But the Governor said he will put back some of this things, and he has actualized his pledge. The place is looking new and our swimmers instead of paying to train at Kwara Hotel swimming pool will resume training at the pool any moment from now.
He also hinted on the bid to have the facility commercialized.
“We also have plans to commercialize it so that we can generate funds. We are not giving it to any Consultant, but to run it ourselves. It will be effectively managed. But to do that, we need adequate funding. We need more funds. We thank the government for its support so far, but we need more. We need to maintain the swimming pool and other facilities. Most of the revenues we make goes directly into government coffers through the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS). So, it’s been difficult maintaining the facilities we have here. We are planning to put up a Memo to the government that the Commission be exempted from giving all the revenues we make to the government. Certain percentage needs to be given to us for maintenance. The swimming pool is ready for use, and we need to buy chemicals to do periodic treatment of the water.
“Swimming is fun…its entertainment. We can do picnic, competition and all other things.
The Chief Executive Officer of Aishruk Global Investments Limited, Alhaji Akanbi Shuaib Abdulkadri said that even though the facility has been fully renovated, two major issues has to be addressed before final handing over to the government. Alhaji Akanbi is the former Permanent Secretary of the then Ministry of Sports and Youth Development.
First, the issue of flooding needs to be adequately addressed.
“The unfortunate incidence of flooding due to heavy downpour around November brought about a little setback. It happened three days after completing the renovation. The underground installations were submerged. We had to move back to the site, evacuate the water from the underground for four days, removed the pumps and electrical installations, dried them and re-install. We have also taken cognizance of future occurrence, with some additional measures outside the original specifications.
“Secondly, the Governor, during one of his visits to the swimming pool sought for the installation of solar powered pumps to address the issue of flooding at the underground fittings. Expectedly, there would be water in the underground. There is what we call Submersible Pump, which automatically operates itself, pumps out water any time the water reaches certain level at the underground. And since electricity is not regular to power it, His Excellency asked for the installation of the solar powered pump. Even if generator was provided, the cost of fueling is another thing, which was why the issue of solar powered pump came up. With the approval of these two items, we are good to go.
Alhaji Akanbi said that the facility was badly affected because there was no power to make the facility function as it should, following the vandalization of the armoured cable that supplied power to the facility from the transformer and generator.
“What led to the dilapidation of the facility was the vandalization of the armoured cable that supplies power to the facility. So, power to the facility was cut off. That happened many years ago. And since there was no power supply, the underground water cannot be drained, thereby damaging all the installations underground.
“We had to change all the pumps, eight in all, changed the dozing pumps and all the electrical fittings completely. We also changed the pool lights, which is over 5o in all, procured armoured cable, took the transformer to the IBEDC for refurbishing, and serviced the generator before we begin work on the underground installations.
According to Alhaji Akanbi, the contract was awarded to Aishruk Global Investments Limited based on the estimate submitted for the renovation by the then Kwara State Sports Council, which he said, had errors.
“The contract was awarded to us based on the estimate submitted by the then Kwara State Sports Council, and there was error in the number of pumps they coated for. The pumps are eight, and in the bill, six were provided for. So were the dozing pumps and so many other things. I believe the estimate was hurriedly prepared with the intention that maybe the money will be released to the Sports Council directly. It can never happen because it violates financial regulations. Any contract that is above N5million cannot be done through direct labour. It has to be through contracting.
“We wrote a letter to correct the errors, and it was approved. The original cost was N40million, and the variation was N20million, making the whole amount N60million. As you know, contract is not stagnant. Each of the pumps costs about N5million.
“With all these, I will say the pool is 100 percent ready for use, if the estimates for the flooding and solar pumps are approved. What remains is to treat the water and test-run it.
“The facility needs to be treated with utmost care. I will want to suggest that they have a dedicated account for the servicing and maintenance of the facility. It can be commercialized, and from there, a certain amount of money be set aside for the treatment of the water and other services. We have equipment that is worth N50 million underground.