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Scorecard: Uhuru Kenyatta delivers five of six stadia promised to his Mt Kenya turf

Wang'uru Stadium in Mwea when it was upgraded ahead of the 2021 Mashujaa Day celebrations. [Timothy Kariuki, Standard]

As President Uhuru Kenyatta's tenure comes to an end, his administration will count five of six stadia in Mt Kenya region on the list of delivered promises.

Of the five, one stadium is complete while four are at 99 per cent completion. Of the Sh3 billion spent on the construction of new stadia and Sh2.8 billion spent for rehabilitating existing ones, Mt Kenya received Sh2.5 billion for the six stadia.

The stadia whose construction and rehabilitation works was started by Jubilee are Wanguru (Kirinyaga), Kirigiti (Kiambu), Kirubia (Chuka), Kinoru (Meru), Ruringu (Nyeri), and Karatu in Kiambu County.

Wanguru and Kirigiti stadia were built from scratch while the others have been rehabilitated.

According to a Presidential Delivery Unit’s document of the overview of stadia works, Wanguru stadium was constructed at a cost of Sh311 million and completed in October last year.

The stadium hosted this year’s Mashujaa Day celebration, which saw its completed fast tracked.

“The 15,000-seater stadium has been upgraded to Fifa standards with a football field, Asphalt running track, VIP pavilion, ablution block and a police post,” the PDU noted.

Before construction works, the space was open ground with poor drainage and a field terrain used for local games.

Kirigiti has used Sh597 million (16,000 seater), Kirubia Sh274 million (2,000 seater), Kinoru Sh869 million (20,000 seater) and Ruring’u Sh288 million (20,000 seater). They are at 99 per cent completion while Karatu stadium is at 48 per cent due to what PDU attributes to "a challenge with the contractor’s capacity and that a new one will be awarded to continue with the project".

“The 1,500 seat project’ works have stalled due to contractor’s bankruptcy and lack of financial capacity,” read part of the document by the PDU secretary for delivery Andrew Wakahiu.

The other projects are only awaiting the snag list completion and final appraisal for them to be declared complete. All have been upgraded to Fifa standards and have VIP lounge and changing rooms.

In 2013, the Jubilee government promised five new national stadia and upgrading of existing sporting facilities across the country.

By this month, the government said it has constructed four new stadia where two are completed, ten rehabilitated while seven are in the pipeline.

The main challenge outlined by Sports Kenya, whose mandate is to establish, manage, develop and maintain sports facilities, was delay in disbursements that slowed down the works.

According to Rakki Asman​, a public relations officer at Sports Kenya: "The delayed disbursement of funds has been the greatest challenge while in a case like Kirubia, inadequate supply of water delayed the works since the borehole dug did not yield sufficient water."​

A spot check on the multi-billion shillings infrastructure initiated in the last ten years, paints a picture of new developments that are expected to transform the regional economic status for decades.

Kirinyaga County’s Wanguru for example has given rise to other business opportunities other than the rice trade that has been the main source of livelihood for most residents.

Strategically situated along the Embu-Nairobi highway and with a good road network around the Mt Kenya region, Wang’uru Stadium will serve parts of Eastern, Nairobi and Central.

President Uhuru's other flagship project, through Sports Kenya, was renovation of Kinoru stadium to international standards, undertaken by Toddy Construction.

North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood said while they were satisfied now that the 25,000-seater stadium had been completed, the national government had reneged on its pledge to build a police station and offices for Assistant County Commissioner and Chief.

"There is no police station at Kinoru stadium,” said Dawood.

For Nyeri residents, Ruringu stadium reminds them of the struggle for independence and its rehabilitation is an honour to the freedom fighters who converged at the grounds after colonial masters agreed to leave the country.

Founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta convinced the fighters who remained at the forest even after independence, to come out from their hideouts and converge at the stadium.

Jomo led the freedom fighters to lay down their arms at the "flag of free Kenya" at the stadium on December 16, 1963.

“The stadium is synonymous with our fore fathers who fought for the liberation of this country from the colonisers and therefore upgrading it honours these Mau Mau veterans,” said Theuri Nderitu, a resident of Nyeri town.

In Kiambu, upgrade of the historic Kirigiti stadium is slowly changing the once sleepy town as prices of land and houses skyrocket.

In a stadium known for being used to make historical political decisions such as the endorsement of Uhuru for president in 2001 by the county leaders and the last rally of pro-2010 Constitution by former President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the upgrade has changed the face of the town. 

Hospitality industry is also booming in the area which is only 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre. It is, after all, a choice accommodation hub for low-income earners.

According to Maina Muturi, a Kiambu County Governor advisory member, the stadium is ideal for sporting activities such as athletics being 2,000m above sea level.