When Rivers State won the rights to host the 17th edition of the National Sports Festival, NSF in 2009, it nursed the dream to stage the biennial fiesta in a one stadium complex, where all the events would hold within the same environment.
According to authorities then, it would serve to give the fiesta the compactness of the Olympics, enhance the integration of the Nigerian youths and take the spirit of the game and athletes to a very good level.
Also, the dream of a one venue sports festival with ultra modem world class facilities tallied with the vision of Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, for a new Port Harcourt City replete with first class infrastructure.
Furthermore, the need for a befitting sports facility that will provide the opportunity for sporting activities and recreation for the new Port Harcourt City, known as the Greater Port Harcourt City combined to influence the choice of the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium complex between the Igwurita, Aluu, Omagwa axis of the Greater Port Harcourt City.
A virgin land in Igwuruta was the choice for the Garden City Sports Complex. The facility is positioned on a 42-hectre piece of land within Rivers State’s new mega city, Greater Port Harcourt.
The sports arena comprises a 25 thousand seating capacity Stadium which is going to be the second largest fully covered main bowl in Nigeria when completed. Being constructed by Deux Nig Ltd, the stadium was proposed to be used for the opening ceremony but will not be used because project is still under construction.
The five thousand seating capacity natural grass football arena with eight synthetic track lanes, that will boost most of the field events such as the track and field sports was also built by Deux .
Deux handled the construction of the entire playing surfaces project such as the lawn tennis (2), volley ball (2), basket ball (2), hand ball (2), hockey (2), squash (4) indoor sports hall and a 50, 25, and 10 metre shooting range all built according to international regulations and standard has an average seating capacity of 800 on each court.
The arena has four Olympic size pools, two 50 by 25 metres swimming pools and two 15 by 25 metrres diving pools built according to international Olympic standard. The pools are built by Veltrop Nig Ltd and Vast Int.
Explaining the working of the pools, VAST International Nig. Manager, Mr Obiora Okoya, said there are three components of the pool; the Swimming Pool, the Balance Standard and the Technical Room.
The 10 lane swimming pool described as one of the best in Africa, contains the water were athletes can compete. The pool is surrounded by gutters with pipe connections underground into the Balance Standard.
A view of the underground Balance Stand is in the technical room, the Balance Stand, absorbs water from the pool to avoid overflow of pool water irrespective of the number of people in the pool at the same time. Through the underground pipes in the gutters surrounding the pool, pool water is transferred into the balance standard to maintain the stability of the pool water.
The Technical Room is the heart of the pool. Automatically aided by the pipes and tanks, the plant has the capability to automatically transfer water either from overflow or normal filtration process in Balance Tank to the Fibre Glass Filtration Tanks in the technical room.
Inside the filtration tanks, there are three compartments of filters. The smallest filter is at the top with a medium one and larger one at the bottom. Once water from balance tank gets into the filtration tank, the sand inside the tank holds back the dirt at each compartment before moving the water to another compartment of tanks and valves back to the pool clean and sparkling.
The process repeats itself over once electricity is supplied. The facility also has the capacity to ensure chemical treatment by automatically giving right dosage of chlorine, ph balance + and ph-.
The swimming pool site gallery seating about 1200 people also has compartments for team rooms, referee changing rooms and clinic.
The Garden City Sports Complex also boost of a mini standard clinic to provide immediate medical services for athletes and officials. Administration block, Stadium Manager Quarters, security maintenance quarters and four public toilets around the centre comprised of eight toilets.
The facility is built by COSPEC who only came on board in March 2011 because of the inability of previous contractor to deliver the project before the start of the festival.
The road construction around the centre is being handled by CICO Deux Nig Ltd handling major projects on the site is directed by Dr Walter Olatunde a Medical Doctor turned Engineer who brings in the softness of medical practice to the turf surface of engineering under the burning sun as most of the other contractors testified of Deux understanding and good relationship.
Deux have carried out major works in different part of the Nation before taking on the Garden City Sports Complex project.
Despite their experiences and proof of professional competence, the terrain proved challenging for Deux like all other contractors also complained of the terrain of consistent rain. According to Dr Walter, the consistent rain, flood and marshy ground slowed the project.
Deux has the highest number of employees including permanent and casual staff at a range of about three thousand persons. Expressing excitement to be a part of the Garden City Games 2011 and the light and opportunity the project has brought to the Igwuruta community and its surrounding.
VAST Intrn. Nig and VEL TROP Nig Ltd built the pools, each company on one swimming pool and diving pool on the same spec. VAST International Nig CENT ARC “Design Associate is the Consulting firm to Rivers State Government. The site Engineer is Engr. Isa Mohammed. The full work began in 2009 because of previous movement from two other sites allocated to the project.
The rainy terrain was emphasized as a major constraint to work progress. However, in about one year of work progress, the consultant affirmed the State Government, Ministry of Sports and the contractors, were up and doing to put in their best to deliver the project before the beginning of the National Sports Festival.
Engr. Isa said Rivers people especially people of Igwuruta and surrounding communities have acquired much skills through the project, stating that many workers who did not have a good knowledge of the their peculiar skills have not only improved on the job but have upgraded their skills to international standard working level because all the projects are of international standard while others have learnt project management and administration.
The Garden City Sports Complex completion empowered about five thousand permanent and casual workers.
Apparently, the choice of the name of the Complex was an effort to celebrate and recognize one of the illustrious sons of the state, Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka, MON, JP, a football administrator, an ex-international, who excelled in the national team, the Green Eagles in the 1970s and 80s.
By the name, it is expected that youths of the state and beyond, seeing Amiesikaka as a role model will be motivated to use the facility to develop and exploit their talent.
Having identified the site, it was handed over to the contractors, Deux Project, for the realization of the impressive facilities that are billed to host most of the 17th NSF events.
According to the Project Director of Deux Projects, Dr. Walter Olatunde, the site which was identified and chosen because it aligned with the master plan of the Greater Port Harcourt City was handed over to the company in April, 2010.
However, the site was not ready for work until June same year when Deux Project mobilised to site.
It has been a project that tasked the technical ability and ingenuity of the contractors as they tried to over come the challenges posed by the terrain.
“The terrain has been very very challenging”, said Dr Olatunde. “The condition of the soil was very difficult to deal with. It was a virgin land, fertile for planting and not solid or ideal for heavy construction work. Water and soil mixed to make the place muddy and difficult for us”, he explained of the major challenges they faced trying to deliver the stadium complex on time.
Also, the weather condition in the state, especially, the rains were a natural phenomenon that the contractors found difficult to deal with.
But special construction skills, suited to the weather and terrain of the area made it possible for them to make progress within the time.
“Though it has been very challenging; we have coped very well to make progress as you can see”. Said the Project Director.
“We employed special skills and machinery to cope with and over come the challenges, that is why you are seeing the impressive results barely one year after”.
“We are expecting that all the facilities will be ready this weekend before Rivers State hosts the nation. We have worked day and night to endure the completion of the projects.
“We have the capacity to ensure that the facilities for the games are ready. The facilities are world class and we want to showcase the site”.
“All the facilities are ready except the mainbowl which cannot be ready for the festival, the work to be done there is beyond the time line for the festival, said the Director.
Consequently, athletes are assured of the use of world class swimming pools, basketball courts, handball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, hockey pitch, tracks for athletics and terraces for spectators.
Indeed, the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium complex is a statement in infrastructure development which will certainly bring fresh developmental angles to the state.