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Stars could move home to Uganda: Company contracted to plant grass at Kasarani and Nyayo Stadium leave country

 Renovation of Kasarani stadium pitch in progress in Nairobi on February 16, 2018. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Grass will grow! Sports Ministry insists contractor has to wait

Company contracted to plant grass at Kasarani and Nyayo Stadium leave country, raising fears stadiums will not be ready for Kenya versus Ghana tie.

The company contracted to plant grass at five stadiums has left the country.

This raises fears that the facilities will not be ready in time for the September 3, 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana.

This could mean that Football Kenya Federation (FKF) would have to host the match in either Tanzania or Uganda.

According to sources, officials of Gregory International, which was awarded the tender to plant grass at Kasarani, Nyayo, Kinoru, and Kipchoge Keino stadiums, packed their bags two weeks ago because of delays in paying for work done at the four venues.

“The company wrote to the Ministry of Sports last month stating that if they do not receive their payment by March 3, then they would leave. When that day came and no payment was received, they left,” said the source.

“The fear is that it takes at least four months for grass to grow. Further delay therefore means Kasarani or Nyayo will not be ready by September 3, making it impossible to play Ghana in Kenya.”

The four venues were to host this year’s Africa Nations Championships, but were not ready in time, so the tournament was moved to Morocco.

FKF President Nick Mwendwa was not available to comment on the matter as he is in Morocco with the national team, Harambee Stars, which is scheduled to play a series of friendly matches this weekend.

Sports Permanent Secretary Peter Kaberia, however, said the process of paying the company was ongoing.

“We pay for work done. We received their invoice and it is in the process of being paid but they have to wait just like everybody else,” he said.

Mr Kaberia said the Government had made some payments to the company to enable it to start the work and expressed confidence that the stadiums would be ready before September.

“All contractors have given us timelines when the works will be done and this is indicated in the contract,” he said.

The Sports Kenya acting director general, Saima Ondimu, under whose docket the stadiums fall, however, denied that the company had left. “It’s true there was a delay in paying the contractors, but last week some of them were paid. The grass has not been planted due to heavy rains and not because the company has left,” Ondimu said.

“As soon as the rains subside the grass will be planted,” she added.

With the closure of the four stadiums, Machakos has had to host all matches, both local and international, leading to overuse. With teams also facing a financial crunch, travelling out of Nairobi to play matches has added to clubs’ financial burden.

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