Despite several promises from the devolved unit that renovation work at Gusii Stadium in Kisii County was nearing completion, a lot still remains to be done six years since work started.
Renovation work at Gusii Stadium started in 2014 under Governor James Ongwae who is now serving his second and final term.
While presiding over the launch of work on the stadium, Ongwae said the facility would be upgraded to international standards in six months at a cost of Sh46 million.
But in early 2018, what could be seen at the main football stadium in Gusii region is a fence, the main pavilion with a capacity to accommodate 500 fans and a levelled playing ground.
Construction work had stalled under unclear circumstances.
During the same period, a committee appointed by Kisii County Assembly to investigate the state of the stadium reported that the sports department spent funds in unclear circumstances.
The committee revealed that whereas the project was meant to cost Sh46 million initially, some Sh52 million had been spent by the time the project stalled.
The report released by committee chairperson Evans Mokoro indicated that work on the sports facility had been poorly done despite a huge budgetary allocation.
“The committee received a status report of projects from the department for the year 2015-2016 on October 21, 2018 and after going through it, we resolved to carry out a site visit to inspect the level of implementation,” Mokoro told Nation Sport last week.
According to the report, Sh52 million was allocated to finish the renovation work at the stadium but officials from the Department of Public Works failed to provide the bill of quantities, names of contractors and minutes of the meeting during which the payments were approved.
The committee recommended that the contractors who did not work but were paid be blacklisted and be barred for three years from working for Kisii County government.
The committee also resolved to closely monitor contractors who were still working, and payment be done only after completion of the project.
Afterwards, the county government embarked on major renovations inside the stadium to make it suitable for hosting major sporting disciplines.
A spot-check by Nation Sport shows that an underground irrigation and drainage system was installed on the playing surface and Kikuyu grass planted.
In the second phase, two spectator stands were built, each with capacity for 500 fans. An inner perimeter wall was constructed, although it is not up to standard. No work has been done on the running track, despite the county being home to top athletes, among them world 10,000 metres champion Hellen Obiri.
Another athletics legend from the region is the late Nyandika Maiyoro, a pioneer Kenyan athlete who won fame internationally while competing for Kenya as a British colony in 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.
Nyanza South Athletics Kenya (AK) chairman Peter Angwenyi has in the past raised concerns over the poor state of running track at the stadium.
“As Athletics Kenya (AK) technical officials, we have received complaints about the type of sand that is put at Gusii Stadium which is of poor quality,” Angwenyi said last Wednesday.
“I appeal to the county government to put up a tartan running track at the stadium. As AK, we will guide them on how to lay modern running track at the stadium to meet international standards.”
An eight-lane running track has left no room for installation of facilities for steeplechase, with athletics officials recommending that the lanes be moved further inside or outside the outer lane.
The stadium is currently being prepared to host Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1, but that is doubtful due to Coronavirus pandemic.
The construction work is being funded by the national government in conjunction with the county government which injected Sh60 million towards the project. Once complete, the 2,000-seater stadium will accommodate 12,000 people.
The county government did not provide us with the artistic impression of the structure despite repeated requests.
On Tuesday, there was a beehive of activity at the stadium as the contractor was racing against time to finish the work before Madaraka Day.
Already 10 new spectator stands, each with a seating capacity of 800, are up in addition to another two that have been in place. Final touches are being done on the main dais, which will have a capacity for 2,000 VIPs.
Other features that will be added include holding areas for VIPs at the main dais, lights, water points as well as parking area.
For the convenience of competing teams, two new changing rooms fitted with modern amenities will be incorporated in the main pavilion.
The county’s Chief Officer for Sports, Abel Sagini, said the devolved unit will purchase two 10,000-litre water tanks for irrigating grass inside the stadium.
“We are in the process of planting Kikuyu grass on the playing surface. We will also improve the drainage system which has a small problem,” he said.
Asked whether the running track will be upgraded, Sagini said: “The budget is not enough. For now we will use murram.”
Speaking during an inspection tour of the grounds, Public Works Principal Secretary, Gordon Kihalangwa, said a multi-agency team would remain on the ground to ensure the work is completed on schedule.
“There will be a beehive of activity in the stadium and I am optimistic construction will be finalised in the shortest time possible,” he said.
Football Kenya Federation National Super League team Shabana FC, Division One teams Gusii Football Club, Gusii Starlets and Resolution Kisii use the stadium for their home matches.
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