By GABRIEL FITO
THE Chinese-built Wewak Simple Sports Stadium, the pride of the Sepik people, was yesterday officially handed over to the East Sepik provincial government by Chinese Ambassador Wei Ruixing.
The ceremony, marking the completion of the 15-month project by the Chinese technical team and ownership by the provincial government, was witnessed by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, who is the East Sepik regional MP.
Sir Michael commended the Chinese government and people for the relationship that existed between his province and China’s Shandong province, which had enabled his people to boast an international-class stadium to host local, regional and international events.
Sir Michael said the East Sepik people could now invite other provinces to participate in sporting events and foster relations not only with other provinces but peoples in the region and other parts of the world.
He urged his people to take ownership of the stadium and look after it to serve them for many years to come.
“People of this country want development and progress and it is through partnership like this that the Government is able to fulfill some of the aspirations of our people.
“I call on Sepiks to be an example for others in this country to follow,” Sir Michael said.
The Government contributed K7 million in counterpart funding while the Chinese Government spent K12 million for the construction, which was completed early this month.
The provincial government has the responsibility of upgrading the sports fields, fence the stadium and add other finishing touches before the official opening in September.
Sir Michael commended the East Sepik provincial government for its support of the Chinese technical team who worked hard during the past 15 months to build the stadium.
Ambassador Wei praised the Chinese technical team and the local people who worked tirelessly, often under difficult circumstances, to complete the project on time.
Mr Wei said the stadium promoted friendship and mutual understanding between PNG and China and his government would continue to assist in the areas of capacity-building, health and education.
He said the stadium would be called “Michael T Somare Stadium” when it is officially opened during or before the Independence celebrations this year.