It is a few minutes past 10 am and pupils of St Martin’s Primary School in Nairobi’s Kibra are chatting animatedly at break-time while others are playing football at the adjacent Laini Saba grounds.
Mind you, this is not your ordinary recreational facility as the children are playing the game oblivious of the dangers they are exposing themselves to in forms of heaps of soil that punctuate the entire field and the stagnant water that brings fears of occupational hazards.
For the last couple of months, residents in this cosmopolitan neighbourhood have borne the brunt of a Chinese construction company named Jiangsu International dumping clay soil at the facility thus depriving young, upcoming football talent a place to hone their skills.
People Sport later came to learn that there is a contractor designated by the Nairobi County to upgrade the pitch by levelling it and even laid murram only that his work is hindered by the encroachment of the Upper Hill-based company.
Shafi Ali, one of the Directors of Multi Dream Africa tasked with the rehabilitation project in the facility under contract number NCC/SSH/T/103/2016-17 narrates the sad state of affairs while giving a threat of litigation on the Chinese company.
“The company has mostly been dumping at night and in any case, clay soil is not one of those certified by the City Engineers department on upgrading of sporting facilities. We had laid murram before the illegality occurred and now that the time frame for the tender has run out and we are at the risk of losing our money, we may have no choice but sue the company,” said Ali.
Ali further said the contractor had petitioned National Environment Management Authority (Nema) on the issue but expressed regret that nothing has come out of it even as part of the blame has been apportioned to Laini Saba MCA Cecicila Ayoti for failure to take action. Former Kibra nominated councilor Noordinne Taib Koor voiced concern on the unprecedented decision by the MCA to level the ground with the mixture of clay and murram which stand at the site, terming it unacceptable since it is not compliant with the rules set by the City Engineer.
“Clay soil is totally out of the picture since it is not certified on playing grounds. She (MCA) should better mobilise workers to remove it and then we remain with murram for the rehabilitation work to take off,” said Taib.