Editorial comment | Finally! About time too!

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An incomplete Govind Park in Ba. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

What a relief it must be for people of Ba to listen to the latest developments over Govind Park.

After years of frustration, and waiting, it may have felt like a breath of fresh air when Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad highlighted upgrade works on the park.

Not many people around the country may have the same passion, and to a large extent, anger, and frustration over the slow progression of work on the park as the people of Ba.

Well, it’s because we all may not appreciate how much it means to the people of Ba.

At one stage, Govind Park was the meeting point for people around Ba and neighbouring centres like Tavua, Vatukoula and sometimes from as far as Rakiraki. They converged on Ba every time soccer was on the menu for instance.

It was the place to be for those at the top left-hand side of Viti Levu. It was like a melting pot of diversity, where people from all walks of life would converge on Govind Park to enjoy a Sunday afternoon of exciting soccer.

And the hosts, Ba, did not disappoint them on the field. With not much in terms of forms of entertainment in these districts, soccer was like the glue that held them together. Games would inch out people in their Sunday best.

They came out to meet family and friends, and cheer on their favourite side. It was like a catalyst that actually inspired Ba to perform well every weekend.

In fact, it wasn’t a walk in the park trying to defeat Ba at Govind Park. Over the years, Ba won may titles and games at the venue. Now Prof Prasad has labelled the park upgrade project a disaster because “it was poorly managed and handled”.

During his visit to Ba recently, the minister also called for an urgent and thorough investigation into the matter, saying all those involved in the manipulation of construction works would be taken to task.

“We, as a government, have allocated an additional budget, we are determined to fix the ground,” he said.

“We are very unhappy about the stadium and we are told that the design was changed several times from the original plan.

“In fact, I’ve seen the stadium and if you look at the seats, if you look at the way in which it is built, it does not only comply with proper safety standards, but also if you just look at the seats you can also believe big people don’t fit in those seats, and it is absolutely ridiculous.”

Like the good professor, we call for an urgent investigation into what happened here, and why was it allowed to drag on for so many years. There must be a thorough investigation into what went wrong.

The project has dragged on for six years and someone must be held accountable. Big money was involved, up to about $4 million to cover the whole stadium, including the grounds, and have the stadium ready for sporting events.

There must also be accountability and those in power who failed to raise this as a major concern over the years must also be held up to scrutiny. Who was responsible? And who should have raised this issue and pushed for work to be done, and people held up to scrutiny?

Someone certainly wasn’t on the ball on this project! But it is encouraging to see Prof Prasad initiating a response and shifting the focus of attention on to the project. About time too!