Sorry, the condition of the stadiums in Nyanza is concerning
Over the past five decades since Kenya gained independence, Nyanza has been at the forefront of producing some of the country’s finest football players.
Some of these successful players went on to dominate for both their local clubs and the national team, Harambee Stars.
From Allan Thigo, Peter Dawo and Dennis Oliech to Kenneth Muguna and Michael Olunga, the region has consistently provided the national team with top players.
However, the history of football stadiums across Nyanza is different. Despite its wealth of talent, the Nyanza region does not have standardized sports facilities to support its players.
Since sport became a decentralized function controlled at the county level, there has been an increase in the number of sports stadiums and facilities.
However, construction of said infrastructure is advancing at a snail’s pace, hampering sporting activities in the process.
From Kisumu county to Siaya, Homa Bay, Nyamira and Migori counties, there is not a single stadium that can host regional or international matches. At one time it was difficult to organize even local matches as most stadiums were under construction or renovation.
The first is Moi Stadium in Kisumu, which for more than a decade prior to 2009 had been abandoned.
That was until FIFA, the international football governing body, agreed to upgrade the facility in 2012, including the provision of artificial turf and refurbished terraces.
FIFA did their part and the county government had to complete the construction, with the promise that it would be a world-class stadium capable of hosting local and regional tournaments.
However, after completion, the stadium is below average. The condition of the stadium is so bad that Kisumu lost a chance to host the 2013 CECAFA games due to poor infrastructure and health issues. There was actually a landfill right next to the stadium wall.
Eventually the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) halted the 1.3 billion shilling facelift over corruption allegations last year, leaving the stadium in a deplorable state.
Kisumu County Sports Infrastructure Manager Kenneth Otieno said they could not continue working on the stadium due to EACC investigations.
“The stadium is under investigation and until they fix the problem we cannot do any construction,” he said.
However, Otieno said sports in Kisumu will be boosted by the completion of the 415 million shilling Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium next month.
“We have good news for the sport in Kisumu. The construction of the new Mamboleo stadium is 85% complete. This will save the whole Nyanza region which does not have a proper stadium,” Otieno added.
Next to Kisumu is Siaya County which is home to Siaya Stadium
Construction of the state-of-the-art 394 million shillings project began in February 2019 and was expected to take just 10 months. However, more than three years later, the stadium is not yet complete. According to the County Tourism and Sports CEC, Charles Ogada, work is currently underway and the contractor is on site.
Mr. Ogada, however, could not give an exact timeline for the completion of the project, adding that the public terraces of the associated facilities are 90% complete and the main ground is 50% complete.
The project, whose contractor is Jiangsu Provincial Construction Limited, is designated as one of Governor Cornel Rasanga’s flagship projects.
When completed, the stadium will have an eight-lane athletics track with tartan finish, public terraces and a main pavilion with a VIP area among other high-end facilities.
Further afield is Migori Stadium, which despite over 60 million shillings being allocated for upgrades, only a white metal fence stands out.
Home to National Super League (NSL) side Migori Youth, the stadium has been abandoned for most of the past two years.
The rehabilitation of the stadium was one of the county government’s major sports programs, but since 2014 when the first 30 million shillings were paid for the upgrade, little has been built.
Earlier last month members of the County Assembly Area (MCA) visited the stadium to check on progress after a further 30 million shillings were allocated in 2019 for renovations, but there is no had nothing to show.
The Migori County Sports Department is currently under investigation for embezzlement of 11 million shillings. As in Kisumu, no timetable was given for the completion of the stadium.
According to the head of Migori’s sports department, Christopher Nyasaka, the consultants who led the construction did a shoddy job and the project had to be re-announced.
“We have the drawings of the stadium. Now is when the actual tender can be awarded for construction to begin,” Mr Nyasaka told The Standard on Sunday by telephone.
“Together with other bodies, including the auditor, we are looking at the amount of work and its scale. From there, they estimate how many days it may take,” he added.
And in the city of Homa Bay, one of the biggest economic centers in the region, construction of a modern stadium is underway at a cost of 369.7 million shillings, funded by the county government.
The stadium will have a number of facilities including a VIP lounge, toilets, water well, floodlights, pavilions and dressing rooms.
According to county executive committee member for sports and culture, Fredrick Odero, construction which began in July 2019 delayed the outbreak of Covid-19.
The works were due to last 78 weeks before the contractor, Six Eleven Energy Contractors Limited, was given no more time. Mr Odero said 65% of the work had been done, adding that they would complete the work by June this year.
“The pavilion and other civil works. The major works we are left with are the construction of the roof and windows alongside other minor works,” Odero said.
Site manager Abdi Akim said they would anchor the roof in two weeks.
“We are undertaking this work well and our aim is to build an attractive stadium,” he said.
Elsewhere in Nyamira County is the Manga Stadium, which remains unfinished, six years after its creation.
To date, only a perimeter wall and some renovations have been carried out, despite the injection of 150 million shillings into the project. In the 2015/16 financial year, the stadium was allocated 60 million shillings which went towards the construction of the stone wall.
So far, an additional 50 million shillings have been injected into the project, including 15 million shillings alone for land leveling.
The stadium, which sits on 10 acres of land, is expected to cost around 300 million shillings to fully complete.
It has been named as one of the largest sports facilities in the country, which will have a maximum seating capacity of 60,000.
Governor Amos Nyaribo had promised that the stadium would be completed before the August 9 general elections. But now that the elections are behind us, it remains to be seen when the stadium, being one of former Governor John Nyagarama’s flagship projects, will be completed.
Finally, the 10,000 capacity Gusii Stadium, also in Nyamira, is currently in phase three of construction.
In February last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced an additional 150 million shillings for construction work.
However, the government has yet to release the funds. Kisii Governor James Ongwae said the renovations were carried out in close partnership between the devolved unit and the national government, indicating that more works will be carried out from October to spruce up the stadium.
“We expect fans to maintain a high level of discipline to avoid unnecessary vandalism to sports facilities,” Mr Ongwae said.
Ruben Nyakundi, the county engineer for physical planning, said the stadium will now accommodate more people, attract more teams and act as an incentive for teams to play.
In addition to two grandstands, another 10 spectator terraces were built, each of which can accommodate 500 people.
An additional presidential lounge has been fitted out with its windows overlooking the spectacular Nyanchwa hills. The stadium will be inaugurated in November later this year.
[Additional Reporting by Stanley Ongwae, Anne Atieno Olivia Odhiambo, Erick Abuga and James Omoro]