Millions go to waste as stadia Jubilee promised are abandoned

Athletes at Kipchoge Keino Stadium whose construction has since stalled. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

One of the promises the Jubilee administration made ahead of the 2013 General Election was the development of sports by building stadiums across the country.

And it went ahead to launch several of the projects, but which have now turned into empty promises to the disappointment of sportsmen and women.

In the North Rift region alone, both national and county governments have sunk more than Sh175 million into sports projects that now remain eyesores after they were abandoned by contractors.

The Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret Town was among five facilities Jubilee promised to upgrade in its manifesto.

Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties have also sunk money into upgrading of Kamariny and Chagaiya training facilities.

However, a spot check by The Standard has revealed that six years down the line, the facilities have been abandoned after the contractors left the site due to alleged non-payment for work done.

Athletes say they are now spending a lot of money to access private facilities.

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Joash Kimutai, a budding athlete who trains in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet, said he has been forced to part with Sh300 daily to train at Tambach Teachers Training track after work at Kamariny Stadium stalled.

Mr Kimutai said most athletes training in Iten cannot afford subscription fees charged by private facilities.

“Today, Kamariny is worse than it was before the said upgrade. We had high expectations that the stadium would solve our training problems. But the government has gone mute and we don’t know what is going on,” Kimutai said.

Former world marathon champion Wilson Kipsang said Kamariny Stadium was the only public training facility in Iten.

Mr Kipsang says athletics fortunes have dwindled in recent years due to lack of public training facilities. 

“Many athletes can’t afford Sh100 to travel to Tambach or Sh200 to  Eldoret on a daily basis. Many of them are young athletes struggling to make ends meet. Some have given up,” Kipsang said.

Uasin Gishu-based runner Robert Kipkemboi, who won the Iten marathon last year, said he has been training on roads due to lack of a proper stadium. “Training has become expensive. It’s only elite athletes who can access better training facilities,” said Kipkemboi.

Athletics Kenya (AK) North Rift public relations official, who is also a coach, Bonface Tiren, said many young athletes have given up due to high costs of training.

Mr Tiren wants Sports CS Amina Mohamed to explain why the project stalled.

“Coaches and athletes are in the dark. The CS should come out and tell us there is no money or they are not willing to fulfill their promise so we know we are on our own,” said Tiren.

According to the audit report for 2017-18 financial year, Kipchoge Keino, which was to become the biggest stadium in the North Rift, had gobbled Sh117,380,994 by the end of June 2018.

The Kamariny Stadium, located in the high altitude training base of Iten, had consumed Sh34,805,400 of taxpayers' money by the same period.

The two projects were among Sh2.4 billion stadia that the ruling Jubilee had promised Kenyans in 2013, in which Sh699 million have been paid to contractors for incomplete works.

When The Standard visited Kamariny and Kipchoge Keino stadiums, it emerged the projects stalled in January this year after contractors abandoned the sites.

Former Auditor General Edward Ouko said in his report that the Ministry of Sports paid Sh34 million (11 per cent of the total contract) for the Kamariny project that was to be completed in August 2018.

The report shows the scope of work for Kamariny, which was expected to host at least 2,500 athletes, involved the construction of VIP pavilion, changing rooms, medical rooms, anti-doping room, office of stadium management and track lanes.

“An audit inspection of the stadium (Kamariny) on March 9, 2019 revealed there was no noticeable pitch and track works and the site had been abandoned,” Mr Ouko said in his report.

At Kipchoge Keino, though the contractor constructed a tartan track, the pavilion and changing rooms are yet to be completed.

In Tarakwa, Uasin Gishu, a proposed Chagaiya High Altitude Training Camp, which was to host nearly 300 athletes, has stalled despite allegedly gobbling more than Sh24 million, according to the Auditor-General.

Yesterday, about five cows and ten sheep were grazing on the abandoned training camp where about 80 apartments and a hall had been built to lintel level before it was abandoned two years ago.

“Barely a month ago, a lorry was spotted carting away some building materials. We have just been left with more questions than answers. The last time a contractor was here was more than two years ago. We had high hopes that our children would train here when the project started six years ago,” James Barno said.

Mr Barno said the project had employed tens of local youths before it was abandoned.

Uasin Gishu sports executive Joseph Kurgat declined to comment on the matter, but the county assembly committee on sports described the project as troubled.

Committee chairman Edward Yego said the Chagaiya High Altitude Training facility has cost the county millions according to assembly reports.

“There is a problem and we need to probe the matter. Initially, construction of the training facility was under the department of wildlife and tourism but was later transferred to sports department,” Mr Yego, the Segero/Barsombe MCA said.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, the county, according to the Auditor General’s report, spent Sh34 million in construction of a pavilion in the same site where the national government is constructing Kamariny Stadium.

In Nandi County, a Sh100 million training camp that was established in honour of world record marathon holder Eliud Kipchoge, who hails from the county, is almost complete.

Sports ministry chief officer Kennedy Tanui said phase one of the project that entailed construction of 50 houses that will accommodate athletes was completed.

Mr Tanui said the project, in Kapsabet, will be ready by February next year.

“This is purely a county government project. We were expecting Sh200 million for Kipchoge stadium, but we were never given. We are working to complete our own,” Tanui said.

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2013 General ElectionUasin Gishu