By Wudineh Zenebe
The Oromia Regional State has decided to take back the five hectare plot of land alloted for the construction of Sendafa Athletics Village, which is lagging way behind schedule. The plot was assigned for the construction of a fully-equipped athletics village in the Oromia special Zone, sendafa town, some 39 km north of the capital. However, the construction did not start ten years after the land was given to the athletics federation for this purpose.
The plan envisages a state-of-the-art athletics training center on the site with an investment outlay of 103 million birr. The first move that the federation made was to raise the sum through various schemes. And among these schemes one was a telethon organized at the Sheraton Hotel. The program was organized in collaboration with Ethio-Investnemnt Promotions.
At the telethon the federation was able to secure some 27 million birr in pledges, of which 20 was made by the Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Mohamed al-Amoudi and his companies. Out of the total pledges made that day only 5.1 million was paid so far, sources told The Reporter. And it was Mohamed al-Amoudi and his companies' pledges that are not honored thus far.
However, his failure to honor the pledges has some grounds, according to reports at the time. According to the agreement between the promotion company and the federation, 25 percent of the overall revenue raised was to go to the promoter. However, Mohamed al-Amoudi and his companies have hard time swallowing the fact that their 25 percent donation goes to the promoter.
The case even went to court at the time and got settled eventually. But, the once withheld pledges were never realized after that. Meanwhile, the regional government was expecting the construction process to start over the period of litigation and limbo that followed. But, there was nobody to do anything on the plot for a long time.
“Now we have run out of patience,” the mayor of Sendafa, Zegeya Chemirew told The Reporter. “We have to put to use the otherwise unexploited plots, it is not a choice,” concluded the mayor.
Sendafa was selected to erect the athletics village projects due to its altitude, which is quite suitable for athlete developments. Apart from the telethon, national lottery and donation schemes were intensively used.