MASERU — Setsoto Stadium, Lesotho’s only world-class sports arena, has developed two serious cracks hardly 18 months after the completion of renovations, the Lesotho Times has learnt.
The huge cracks have developed in the Royal Stand, in the west.
Sources told the Lesotho Times during a visit to the stadium on Monday that the cracks appeared to run deeper than they seemed.
A team of builders was busy repairing the wall when our news crew arrived at the stadium.
The cracks appear hardly a year after the contractors finished renovations to the stadium which began in 2008.
According to a Ministry of Sports brief on the stadium, the area that has cracked was built by a local construction company, Thescons, at a cost of M35 million.
The company undertook major renovation work at the Royal and East Stands between June 2008 and May 2010.
The second phase of renovations was done by another local company, Lesotho Steel Products, at an estimated cost of M108 095 873 million.
The company did renovation work in the North and South stands between July 2009 and July 2010.
Thescons owner, These Phooko, however denied that the stadium had cracked insisting they were not cracks but expansion joints.
“This is a construction design called expansion joints. They are always left open for contraction and expansion during different weather (seasons),” These said.
“The expansion joints allow a structure to expand and contract when the weather changes. A building can collapse if it is left without them.”
He however admitted that the expansion joints at the stadium “had been carelessly made”.
He added that his company will assume full responsibility in repairing these “expansion joints”.
However, building experts who spoke to the Lesotho Times this week, sharply disagreed with Phooko.
They said the building had developed cracks because the construction firm had used poor building materials.
“Expansion joints are openings left in the building to allow expansion and contraction during different seasons. They are never repaired or maintained,” said one expert who refused to be named.
“And how does something that is already opened crack? Cracks never take place in an opening,” he said.
“Suppose we agree with him and say those are expansion joints, which I strongly disagree with, how come those at the stadium are not straight?”
A building technology expert at Lerotholi Polytechnic, Seipati Mahao, also disagreed with Phooko.
“Expansion joints are openings done to avoid any cracks in the building and are normally made on tall buildings,” Mahao said yesterday.
“You must understand that these expansion joints’ main objective is to ensure that cracks never occur in a building,” she said.
Mahao said the cracks suggest that there was a problem with the material that was used on the building.
“These (expansion joints) are made to avoid cracks in the building and the minute they occur, it shows there is a problem with the material used,” Mahao noted.
The renovations for the cracked stand, together with the East Stand cost the government M35 million.
The Royal Stand houses a press room, dressing rooms, showers and toilets, medical room, anti-doping room, Fifa Room, signage, public address system, floodlights, and the electronic score board.
Parliament’s portfolio committee on sport last year said the stadium was in a pathetic state despite the government pouring huge sums of money to renovate it.
The committee inspected the stadium together with the Bambatha Tsita Sports Arena and they were not happy with what they saw.
MP Libe Moremoholo told the Sunday Express that their tour had established that the “grounds are in a very poor state”.
“The conditions in both grounds are very poor and need to be addressed urgently because these are very important issues,” Moremoholo said.