Hope for stadiums wanes

Hope for stadiums wanes

Manga Stadium in Nyamira County on December 22, 2021.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

What happened to the much talked about multi-million shillings stadiums promised in South Nyanza in 2014? Gusii, Manga, Migori and Homa Bay stadiums should have been completed by now, but eight years on, the projects have fallen behind schedule.

The slow pace of construction of the 12,000-capacity Gusii Stadium in Kisii County, despite a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta for the project to be completed by the end of 2021, is raising concern.

In 2014, the Kisii County Government used Sh50m on the project while in the current financial year the county approved a Sh96 million budget for the same project.

The facility was partially opened to local teams in 2018, and ever since then there have been a series of closures to facilitate renovation.

When the President toured Gusii region in February last year, he said that the national government had injected Sh150 million into the project.

Nation Sport visited the stadium and found that plans were underway to install a running track and the drainage system was being improved.

Kisii County Governor James Ongwae said that the stadium, which hosted Mashujaa Day celebrations last year, will be a legacy project.

“When I took up the mantle of leadership in 2013, I expanded and modernised the stadium. Kisii is a sporting region, and as a governor I thought this stadium will remain behind as a memory to my people that indeed devolution works,” he said.

However, officials in the department of sports could not tell when the stadium would be ready.

Owing to the construction work at the stadium, National Super League side Shabana FC, which uses the stadium as its home ground, has been forced to move to the privately owned Awendo Stadium in Migori County.

At the neighbouring Manga Stadium in Nyamira County, there is little to show for the Sh109m project that was to be finished last September.

Angelina Moturu of Saumo Enterprise Limited, a company that was awarded the tender, told Nation Sport that she was unable to beat the deadline because the county government had not budgeted for some works.

“I have received all the payment but money for the drainage and other works was not factored in the initial plan. I hope to finish the project by March,” she said at the site.

The foundation for the murram running track has been done and the playing surface on the pitch has been levelled. At the pavilion, which is expected to host at least 3,000 people, roofing has stalled due to lack of funds, according to the contractor.

The county’s Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chairman Luthers Mokua said the region is rich in talent but lacks training facilities.

“County officials must come out and tell the public how much they have spent on the project,” he said.

In Migori, the county government was supposed to renovate a stadium formerly owned by the defunct municipal council to the tune of Sh120m, but the plan has remained a pipe dream.

Nation Sport has since established that the county government has resolved to put up a facility that has a playing ground and a shed that can accommodate 2,000 people. Only a fence and a substandard inner perimeter can be seen on about four acres where a modern sports facility ought to be constructed.

A senior officer in the department of sports, who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation, said that the county government will not build a modern stadium because of lack of funds.

He noted that the project had encountered a lot of hitches since it was launched in 2014 . He added that the county government had not listed it among its key projects.

Efforts to reach the county’s executive for sports Samson Ngariba for a comment proved futile.