Sports Principal Secretary (PS) Kirimi Kaberia has assured that the government is arranging for appropriate return transport to avert a repeat of the chaotic travel arrangements witnessed as team Kenya travelled to Asaba, Nigeria for the 21st Africa Athletics Championship that started yesterday.
The team left the country for Lagos on Monday and had to spend the night in a crowded hotel upon arrival as they were unable to connect to Asaba, close to 500km away. Tuesday was spent on the corridor of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in the hope of getting flights to Asaba but that was not to be until Wednesday morning, the athletes arriving in Asaba at noon, local time.
“We are in consultations with the management of the team on the ground and we are making plans to have the team’s transport back home after the championship sorted out,” said Kaberia.
The hitch was occasioned by the arrival of many athletes from over 15 countries at the same time, with the airline tasked by the Local Organising Committee to connect the teams from Lagos to Asaba unable to handle the large numbers. “The Nigerian Athletics Federation and the country’s LOC had assured us that all preparations were top notch. Had they informed us in advance of such an eventuality, we would have had separate arrangements. It was the LOC’s responsibility to ensure athletes connect from Lagos to Asaba and they assured us that all was well,” added Kaberia.
Despite Uganda, who had travelled a day earlier, raising the red flag, the PS says the government could not predict that the Kenyan team would face similar delays and it was too late to do much about the travel arrangements.
Athletics Kenya have also expressed their disappointment that the team had to go through this kind of treatment. “We intend to petition the CAA/IAAF over this kind of confusion. It is indeed beyond our comprehension how Asaba was given the rights to host an event of this caliber without putting into consideration the logistics around the connecting flights,” read part of their statement.