Story: Zakaria Alhassan, Tamale
TAMALE is set to host the Ghana 2008 African Cup of Nations tournament. The metropolis is one of the four host cities of the soccer fiesta and Group D teams - Senegal, Tunisia, Angola and South Africa – would be based there.
At the moment, work on the hostel facility for the competing teams, stadium, hospitality industry, security, health and sanitation are almost complete.
The GETFund 2008 Hostel, which would host the teams, is ready for occupation.
The 126-room three-star hotel has facilities that include 32 suites, offices for the CAF officials who would be based there and specially designed rooms for the physically challenged.
Other facilities at the hotel are a gymnasium fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, laundry, security features such as Closed Circuit Television(CCTv) cameras and an automatic switch-over standby generator.
The hotel is being managed by officials of Crystal Rose Hotel/Hostel Limited in Kumasi. According to the manager, Mr Akwasi Kumah, ‘‘we also have an ambulance and sick bay that includes a doctor’s room, as well as a 200-seater capacity cafeteria and a conference hall all attached.’’
He gave the assurance that with the recruitment of disciplined and professional staff, they were well prepared to offer the best of services to the players and officials during their period of their stay there.
Another significant development at the hotel is the tarring of the road leading to the facility. This issue had been of concern to many residents in the metropolis as the road generated a lot of dust, especially in the harmattan season.
Rehabilitation works at the Tamale airport are almost complete. When the Daily Graphic visited the place, the workers of Consar Limited, the contractors, were busily putting finishing touches to the terminal building, the VVIP Lounge, control tower and the generator house.
According to the site engineer, Mr Martin Addo, ‘‘we are very sure of meeting the deadline before the arrival of the various teams’’.
Work on the $38.5 million Tamale Stadium complex was also completed a couple of months ago. At the moment, various contractors are busy working even in the night to complete the external works before the first match between South Africa and Angola next week.
All three training pitches near the stadium, the Tamale Senior High School (TAMASCO) and the Northern School of Business (NOBISCO) are ready.
The 20,000-seater stadium is a masterpiece of aesthetic beauty and strategically located on a hill near the forest at the Education Ridge roundabout. It covers a site area of 26.834 hectares, about 22,517 square metres. Among the facilities at the ultra modern edifice are a 40-bedroom hostel, a VIP stand, a giant electronic score-board, a press box and dressing rooms and a luscious green turf that would be suitable for the exhibition of free-flowing football game.
Among the programmes lined-up for the opening game at the stadium and throughout the period the tournament would last are gymnastic displays and cultural performances.
Sources at the Tamale Venue Organising Committee indicated that an elaborate programme had been lined up for the entire period. They, however, declined to reveal what it entailed.
So far, the Northern Regional office of the Ghana Tourists Board has offered training to people in the hospitality industry, including hoteliers, bar and restaurant operators and taxi drivers in the metropolis.
The principal resource officer of the GTB in the region, Mr Alexander Kwame Nketia, said the trainees were taken through topics such as etiquette, mannerism, personal grooming, maintenance and hygiene and customer skills.
He said so far, the over 80 hotels and guest house facilities in the metropolis had more than 1,500 rooms. The officer added that several people had also registered their private homes to be used during the tournament.
A four-storey GETFund-sponsored hostel facility at the Tamale Polytechnic that can house more than 400 people has been completed for use by some of the visitors who would want to stay there.
Many taxi drivers in the metropolis are also preparing their cabs to attract patronage from visitors.
A 27-year old cabbie, Mr Iddrisu Musah, gave the assurance that ‘‘my colleagues and I are going to do our best to provide quality services to our brothers and sisters who would be coming. We are also going to dress decently and behave well towards our guests.’’
Commenting on the fare, he said, ‘‘we are going to charge the normal fares. After all, the people coming are our own African brothers and sisters.’’
On security, the police have established a Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) that has been equipped to withstand and combat violence and effectively control crowd in the metropolis during the tournament.
The Northern Regional Police Commander, Mr Ephraim Okoe Brakatu, said the setting up of the RDF would enable the personnel to deal with people in a ‘‘more professional and pragmatic way in this era of contemporary policing’’.
The 500 trainees of the RDF were taken through intervention and maintenance of order techniques, demonstrations, practical police duties, arrest, handcuffing, search, patrols and escorts. They would complement their colleagues to beef up security at the hotels, tournament venue and the metropolis in general.
The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, for his part, urged the personnel to step up their efforts in ensuring a successful tournament, stressing, ‘‘we want Tamale to stand out as a unique city before, during and after the games’’.
He also commended the security services for their immense contribution to the prevailing peace and unity in the region and said the area was very stable and ready to host the CAN 2008 tournament.
The Ghana Heath Service has also trained its staff in Tamale in the effective handling of emergency cases during the tournament. Among the areas touched on were cardio-respiratory emergencies, basic life support, bleeding, shock, head and spinal injury and mass casualty incident management.
The national co-ordinator of the programme, Dr Wilfred Addo, gave the assurance that the ‘‘GHS and its stakeholders are prepared to put in our best to ensure a successful tournament.’’
The Tamale Teaching Hospital and the West End Hospital at Zogbeli are the designated tournament health centres.
On sanitation, the Northern Regional Operations supervisor of Zoomlion, a waste management organisation, Prince Alhassan Baako, said his outfit had taken delivery of some sanitation equipment that included two water tankers and a road washer, to help them in their clean-up exercises during the tournament.
‘‘We have also beefed up our staff strength by employing 250 additional hands to help keep every nook and cranny of the metropolis, including the stadium, tidy at all times,’’ he added.
At the moment, the supervisor said, his outfit had, among other responsibilities, white washed the pavements along the principal streets of the metropolis.