Work has commenced on a redevelopment project that seeks to bring Madagascar’s Stade Municipal de Mahamasina up to modern safety standards, and expand it to a capacity of 40,000.

Located in the capital city of Antananarivo, the Mahamasina has been the scene of three deadly incidents since the turn of the century, most recently in June when a stampede during a Rossy concert killed at least 15 people.

The Afrik.com website said the first phase of the redevelopment will run for six months ahead of the 60th anniversary of Madagascar’s independence on June 26. The central grandstand and the two stands at either end of the pitch will be demolished and replaced.

The second phase, lasting 12 months, will see further improvements to the stands, while a new pitch will be installed. The stadium’s wider infrastructure and technology will also be enhanced and new floodlights installed.

The RFI Afrique website said the project will cost $77m (£58.7m/€69.2m), funded entirely by the Madagascan government. China State Construction Overseas Development, a subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corporation, won a tender to carry out the project.

Gérard Andriamanohisoa, coordinator of the state-backed Initiative Emergence Madagascar, said: “It is the will of the President (Andry Rajoelina) to put football at the heart of the national project.”

 Stade Municipal de Mahamasina is home to Madagascar’s national football team and has been renamed Stade Barea in honour of its exploits at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where Madagascar advanced to the quarter-finals in its first-ever appearance at the tournament.

Image: Alno