Ghana's preparation to host African football's biggest gathering in 2008 looks set to move into higher gear in the next few weeks.
Bulldozers, excavators, payloaders and other heavy equipment are to be moved to Cape Coast, Essipong and Tamale for the commencement of constructional work for three modern stadia to be used for the 2008 African Cup of Nations tournament.
Barring any eleventh-hour delay, the Shanghai State Construction Group are expected to begin actual construction works next month as the fine details of the contract document near completion after the Chinese team and the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to concretise their intentions to do business.
Following discussions between the Ghana government and the CAN 2008 Local Organising Committee (LOC) on one hand and their Chinese counterparts, Ghana has settled on the design for 20,000-seater stadia to be constructed at Essipong in the Western Region, Tamale and Cape Coast.
Essipong was a late consideration after the choice of Sekondi was rejected after feasibility studies by experts.
LOC Chairman, Dr Kofi Amoah, in a recent interview explained that the site at Sekondi was turned down because it was waterlogged and needed to be refilled at an astronomical cost which did not make economic sense, especially as Ghana was working against time to meet deadlines set.
It was designed by the Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tongji University and is a prototype of the Yuanshen Stadium at Shanghai Pudong, a modern edifice designed to meet FIFA and international standards.
The delayed start of actual construction work has caused a lot of concerns for both Ghanaians and officials of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) who recently undertook an inspection of the four venues designated for CAN 2008.
However, LOC chairman Dr Kofi Amoah remains confident that employment of modern technology and the famed efficiency of the Chinese would enable work to be completed ahead of time.
The LOC is envisaging construction of the three new stadia and renovation of the Ohene Djan stadium in Accra and Baba Yara stadium in Kumasi to be completed by the last quarter of 2007 for testing of the facilities.
The two stadia in Accra and Kumasi are to be modernised and expanded to about 40,000 and 60,000-seater respectively, but due to time constraint, the elaborate designs initially planned for the two venues have been shelved, with the government mulling the construction of a bigger Olympic-sized stadium in Accra at a later date.
Each of the three new stadia, with running tracks for athletics, has been designed with high consideration for comfort and safety, with a 216-seater press box and 28 emergency exits to be provided, such that in the event of any emergency situation the entire stadium can be evacuated within four (4) minutes.
When completed, it will be a three-storey elliptical stadium with roofs over the stands, offices and hostel facilities.
Each stadium has been sited on a large stretch of land such that other sporting facilities could later be constructed to meet the needs of the community.