President Uhuru Kenyatta has injected fresh impetus in his government’s efforts to deliver first class sports facilities in Kisumu and Eldoret.
On Thursday, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, in a whirlwind tour of Kisumu and Uasin Gishu counties, issued a new pledge to develop grounds in the towns.
She said President Kenyatta wants Eldoret’s Kipchoge Keino Stadium completed “as soon as possible” while in Kisumu, the CS disclosed plans for a new stadium altogether, away from the controversial Moi Stadium. Speaking at the stadium in Eldoret yesterday, Amina said the stalled project will start soon and will be completed immediately after the government holds discussions with the contractors on how to kick-start the stalled works.
Amina, who was accompanied by Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno, told reporters that President Kenyatta “wanted to see the project completed soon so that the sports men and women from the region can use it for training.”
“I have been sent by President Uhuru Kenyatta to check on the facility and make sure the stalled project is completed within the shortest time. We have been in discussion with the contractors and they have assured me that it will be ready soon, once the funds are available,” said Amina.
Amina also said that to continue doing well in various competitions, the country needs to improve training facilities across the country, and that the president has always advocated that.
“We have been doing well in various events, including athletics, and for us as a country, there is need to improve training facilities for better performance in the future and the process has commenced,” she said.
Chemno asked the CS to hasten the project so that athletes could use the facility to train ahead of the Tokyo Olympics Games that have been shifted to July, 2021.
“It has taken long to finalise this project, but I would like to urge the CS and the ministry to hasten the project so that athletes may use it to prepare in the middle and short races ahead of the Olympics Games.
The ambitious Eldoret project has been reduced from four floors to three at the VIP pavilion, with the perimeter fence omitted from the initial plan.
According to the 2020 Athletics Kenya calendar, the Olympic Games track and field trials should have been held at the stadium to select a team that would have represented Kenya at the Tokyo Summer Games which have been pushed to next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The contractor left the site while construction of the VIP terraces was still at foundation level.
The synthetic running track is still in good condition but the football ground is outgrown with grass and weeds.
In January 2017, Sports Kenya and the County Government of Uasin Gishu signed an agreement to renovate the stadium with works set to cover the VIP terraces, changing rooms, a conference hall, indoor games hall and terraces for between 15,000 to 25,000 spectators.
Sh230 million shillings was the initial amount released from the national government while the county government was to pump another Sh100 million shillings to handle the parking lot and lighting.
Last year, Nation Sport carried a series on the state of stadiums across the country most of which are in a state of neglect and little has been done to improve these facilities since then.
The CS is expected to visit Kamariny Stadium in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet next week where she said paperwork has been done and construction is expected to end in six months once construction starts.
In Kisumu, the planned construction of the ultramodern Moi Stadium will have to take much longer.
Speaking earlier in the day in Kisumu town, Amina said the national government has diverted its attention to improving another existing sports ground.
This follows a directive by the President Kenyatta to the Sports Ministry to have part of the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground transformed into a world class sports complex.
Amina said this in Kisumu in the company of Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o as they officially opened a modern market to accommodate the evicted street traders.
Moi Stadium was among several stadiums which the Jubilee administration had earmarked for renovation to world class sports venues.
On the plan by the national government to have a stadium at the Jomo Kenyatta Grounds, Amina said they will be starting the transformational works in a few weeks as directed by the president.
She said the project will be overseen by Sports Kenya, a body responsible for all government stadiums in the country.
“We were directed by the president to put up a stadium on this ground. We already have experts from the ministry of public works who arrived today and will be laying the ground work so that we can embark on doing what we were directed by the president,” said Amina.