Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
A health crisis looms at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo each time there is load shedding in the suburb leaving thousands of soccer fans at risk unless generators lying idle at the venue are connected.
Rolling blackouts are common across the city, leaving thousands without electricity, which means no water for the stadium that is dependent on electric water pumps.
Bulawayo’s ceremonial home of football had no water during last Sunday’s Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter between Highlanders and Dongo Sawmill, exposing thousands of fans to a health hazard and foul odour emanating from the overflowing toilets.
The stadium’s gates were opened at 10AM and by the time the match kicked off at 3PM, all the toilets were unusable due to excrement that caused a pungent smell.
It was a horrible afternoon outing for some fans, as they were forced to bear with an extremely foul stench from the dirty loos that spread as the afternoon progressed.
Barbourfields plays host to an African Nations Championship qualifier between Zimbabwe and Lesotho and fans are likely to be exposed to another health hazard should the suburb experience power cuts on Sunday.
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) seemed unaware of the lack of water at its facility as senior public relations officer Nesisa Mpofu isolated the cut to the old changing rooms.
“Please note that there was no water in the old change rooms as there was no electricity to pump the water from the booster tank due to electricity load shedding,” said Mpofu in an emailed response to a Chronicle Sport inquiry.
Asked why council could not use the giant generators installed at the stadium to provide back-up power in the event of electricity cuts for the Region 5 Youth Games in December 2014, Mpofu said the generators were a white elephant.
“The generators that were bought by the government for the Youth Games came after the event and were never connected since the contractors said they were not paid.”
Mpofu, however, indicated that council was working on rectifying the problem in time for the weekend international game.