Builders in Mongomo are working round the clock to finish one of the four stadiums which are due to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON billed for Equatorial Guinea.
Mongomo, the hometown of President Teodoro Obiang along with Ebebeyin, Bata and Malabo are set to host the finals. Equatorial Guinea agreed to host the tournament last month at the request of the Confederation of African Football, CAF.
CAF took the finals away from Morocco, who had demanded a delay due to their fears over the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD. The stadiums in Malabo and Bata were both used as venues when Equatorial Guinea co-hosted the 2012 Nations Cup with Gabon.
However work needs to be done in both Ebebeyin and Mongomo. “The turf for Mongomo and Ebebeyin stadiums is going to be brought by plane from Europe,” one of the supervisors told BBC.
Work also needs to be done on the stadium structure and other facilities, but all those involved in the preparations are confident the work will be completed in time.
“Time is a big challenge but the good thing is that it’s not new for us to work against time,” said Francisca Obiang Jimenez, the president of the Office of National Projects, who was there supervising the works. “We have built almost an entire city, Sipopo, in about two years and we’ve also built a highway, everybody was expecting that it would finish four years from now but we finished it on time, so I don’t think there will be much problem with the stadiums.”
The new highway means you can travel from Bata, on the coast, to Mongomo, located near the eastern border with Gabon, in around two hours.
While the stadiums look set to be ready in time, having enough accommodation could be a challenge for the organisers in both Mongomo and Ebebeyin.
Ebebeyin has only one large hotel of international standards. “We have hotels and we have also some social houses that we’ve finished building and have not given to anybody yet,” said Obiang. The government and organisers are also taking measures against the possibility of the deadly Ebola virus getting into the country.
All passengers arriving at Malabo airport from abroad are having their temperature checked. There was also an Ebola screening exercise at Bata stadium, before a match of the Economic Community of Central African States, CEMAC Cup, which is currently being staged in Equatorial Guinea.
“During the Cup of Nations, there will be other controls and this kind of protection will be happening further away from the stadium,” a local fan, Juan Esono, assured. A Cameroonian working at the Mongomo stadium said: “I’ve been checked many times for Ebola when crossing the border near Ebebeyin. So I don’t think there will be a problem with the virus here.”