Case 1.4 – Sir Hubert Murray Stadium

Case 1.4 – Sir Hubert Murray Stadium

Work on the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium to prepare it to host sporting events connected to the 2015 Pacific Games began in September 2013 under a public-private-partnership (PPP) between the PNG government and local firm Curtain Brothers. The redeveloped stadium was to cater for 15,000 people, host rugby and soccer matches and be the home for the PNG weightlifting squad (EMTV, 2013).

The incomplete state of the stadium forced the authorities to move all the Pacific Games track and field events including the opening and closing ceremonies to the Sir John Guise Stadium at Waigani.

In January 2016 the Sports Minister Justine Tkatchenko assured the public that work on the historic stadium would be completed by October 2016, in time to host the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (Yagi, 2016). In January 2017 the stadium remained incomplete with the media revealing it will cost K40 million to complete and that the government is seeking corporate sponsorship to get it done   (Lavett, 2017). In June 2017 Mr Tkatechenko told an  election-focused  television show  that the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) will provide funding to get the stadium completed (TVWAN, 2017).

There is no doubt that the PPP between the State and Curtain Brothers failed, leaving a multimillion Kina project incomplete which ultimately impacted on the organisation of the 2015 Pacific Games. For  a PPP to be successful both parties should agree on an appropriate legal and regulatory framework to govern their partnership.

Were there flaws in the legal and regulatory frameworks that led to the abandoning of the project? International experience suggest that the principles of equity, transparency and mutual benefit should be  at the core of any successful partnership. The Sir Hubert Murray Stadium saga should compel the PNG government to review its current frameworks to ensure that any partnership should be done transparently and results in the most effective use of resources committed by both parties.

Update as of 2018

Work on the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium to prepare it to host sporting events connected to the 2015 Pacific Games began in September 2013 under a public-private-partnership (PPP) between the PNG government and local firm Curtain Brothers. The National Government budgeted K11 million for the project while the Curtain Brothers was to provide labour and machinery for free (EMTV, 2016) . The redeveloped stadium was to cater for 15,000 people, host rugby and soccer matches and be the home for the PNG weightlifting squad (EMTV, 2013).

The incomplete state of the stadium forced the authorities to move all the Pacific Games track and field events including the opening and closing ceremonies to the Sir John Guise Stadium at Waigani.

In January 2016 the Sports Minister Justine Tkatchenko assured the public that work on the historic stadium would be completed by October 2016, in time to host the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (Yagi, 2016). In January 2017 the stadium remained incomplete with the media revealing it will cost K40 million to complete and that the government is seeking corporate sponsorship to get it done (Lavett, 2017)  . In June 2017 Mr Tkatechenko told an  election-focused  television show  that the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) will provide funding to get the stadium completed (TVWAN, 2017).

In May 2018, NCDC City manager Benard Kipit announced that NCDC has taken over the incomplete stadium and the contract with Curtain Brothers; and executed new terms to resume the stadium construction at the cost of K40 million (Post Courier, 2018).  Mr Kipit confirmed that K35 million was allocated through the part sale of the sea park land, while K5 million through BSP financing (Post Courier, 2018). He said that this will see the completion of Sir Hubert Murray Stadium with fully fiited western grand stand, car parking, fencing and other ancilliary works that will enable the stadium to be fully operational (Post Courier, 2018) . In relation to the new terms executed, there is no publication of information showing these new terms.

In July 2018, NCD Governor Powes Parkop stated that the money for building the new 2000-seat amphitheatre (which is part of the Ela Beach Park Development) had been put into the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium to Complete it (Post Courier, 2018). It was stated that the Stadium would be completed in November, before the APEC Summit (Post Courier, 2018). The APEC Summit has just ended and the stadium remains incomplete.

There is no doubt that the PPP between the State and Curtain Brothers failed, leaving a multimillion Kina project incomplete which ultimately impacted on the organisation of the 2015 Pacific Games. For  a PPP to be successful both parties should agree on an appropriate legal and regulatory framework to govern their partnership.

Why was the project abonded by the Curtain Brothers? Was it because the death of  its owner Sir Michael Curtain in September 2016(Loop PNG, 2016)? Or were there flaws in the legal and regulatory frameworks that led to the abandoning of the project? International experience suggest that the principles of equity, transparency and mutual benefit should be  at the core of any successful partnership. The Sir Hubert Murray Stadium saga should compel the PNG government to review its current frameworks to ensure that any partnership should be done transparently and results in the most effective use of resources committed by both parties.

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