Amos Abuga @PeopleSport11
“Before end of May, we should have completed the laying of seats. For the building, we have discussed with the contractor and they say it will take them 60-75 days to complete. We will come back here by end of May and if they will have not finished, we will give them another 21 days.”
Those were the assurances of Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia on the scheduled re-opening of Nyayo National Stadium after he led a number of MPs from the National Assembly’s Sports, Culture and Tourism Committee in inspecting the facility in March this year.
However, close to three months later, the tune has changed: “I cannot be able to say with certainty when the stadium will be ready. All I can say is work is at an advanced stage and therefore we should all wait for its official opening,” Kaberia told People Sport last week.
It is a statement that dims the hopes of many local teams especially football and athletics as it was anticipated that the facility, which has been under renovation for close to two years, would be completed soon.
Lack of finances has been highlighted for the slow progress of the works and that is unlikely to change given Sports was allocated Sh3.5 billion in the Budget presented by National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich last week with a paltry Sh500 million allocated to stadia countrywide.
With Nyayo having gobbled close to Sh350 million with a similar amount required to complete the work, it is not hard to understand where Kaberia is coming from.
However, it was the PS himself who kept giving endless promises and timelines when the stadium would be done, leaving many wondering whether Kenyans were being taken for a ride.
A spot-check by People Sport revealed that work at the facility has been moving at a snail’s pace since the last visit by Kaberia and Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, unlike in December when the government worked around the clock to ensure the facility was ready to host Jamhuri Day celebrations, and three months later for the First Lady’s Beyond Zero half marathon.
Ahead of the two events, over 300 workers were dispatched to ensure that work was done quickly but as of yesterday, only a handful of them were present.
“Nowhere in the world can you get such a huge investment on promises. I think we hit the rock. We are owed a lot of money and therefore work could not go on as planned,” said chief contractor Chandresh Babariya.
During the last visit, seats were being fitted on the terraces but up to now, the middle and upper tiers remain untouched.
“We have only started work today after a long break. We have to wait for instructions from our boss. We are told there was no money to import the seats from China and our boss was complaining he had already spent a lot from his pocket,” said a junior staff of Spring Engineering, the company contracted to install the seats,
However, it is not all gloom as the playing surface is almost complete while lifts were fitted at the VVIP area with a new office block constructed.
The 30,000-seater facility is also now accessible to persons with disabilities the changing rooms which were relocated from below the VIP area to the left side of the stadium, have been closed for close to three months since the contractor went on strike.