After stalling since 2017, construction works at the iconic Kipchoge Keino stadium in Eldoret and other stadiums is set to begin.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed yesterday assured that Eldoret’s Kipchoge Keino will be complete in the next seven months and will possibly host the national trials for the 2020 Olympics, which were pushed to 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Amina toured Kipchoge Keino and Kamariny Stadiums in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, which has also stalled over unexplained reasons.
Amina regretted the delay in completion of the facilities, attributing it to shortage of funds.
She expressed hope that both stadiums will soon be ready to host national sporting events.
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Closure of these stadiums for face-lifts threw athletics training in the North Region – the home of a majority of the country’s runners into a spin, forcing budding athletes to turn to private and school facilities for their programmes.
“Kipchoge Keino Stadium will be complete within a period of between six and seven months. We have been assured by the contractor that they are embarking on construction,” Amina said.
She said President Uhuru Kenyatta was keen on speedy completion of the stalled works.
Kipchoge Keino, for instance, was expected to host the national Tokyo Olympics trials that were scheduled for June, but by January, it was clear that the stalled stadium would not be ready to host the event.
The June 19-21 trials would, however, not take place thanks the coronavirus pandemic.
“Kenya is an important nation in sporting activities, particularly athletics and we can’t do it without the sports facilities. We hope to have a national sporting competition in Eldoret soon,” Amina said.
A tartan track and terraces on one side of the Kipchoge Keino Stadium were complete before the site was abandoned nearly three years ago.
A VIP pavilion opposite the terraces was abandoned at the foundation stage.
Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno questioned why a perimeter wall and a parking lot were not included in the stadium’s architectural design.
“We fear that the delay in completing Kipchoge Keino and other stadia will negatively affect the training of short and middle distance running. We risk lacking a formidable Olympics team if we do not complete the stadia soon,” Chemno said.
The CS said the new components will be included when the construction begins, pledging that the facility will be upgraded to international standards.
Earlier, Amina toured Kisumu but avoided Moi Stadium, which has also been dogged by controversies.
A plan by Kisumu County government to build a 20,000-seater ultra-modern stadium at a cost of Sh1.3 billion was halted in March after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) stopped the construction after questioning on the tendering process.
Instead, Amina said she was in Kisumu to inspect the modernisation of the Jomo Kenyatta Sports ground.
“We have been directed by President Kenyatta to put up a modern stadium the Kisumu sports grounds. This initiative is supposed to be complete by December this year,” she said.
Amina also revealed and issued timelines for the completion of 10 other stadiums.
“Kasarani and Nyayo Stadium are almost done while two stadiums in Meru, Bukhungu, Kiambu, Narok, Marsabit and among others, will be completed in 10 months,” she added.
The 18-time Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Gor Mahia, Sony Sugar, newly-promoted Kisumu All Stars, KPL side Western Stima, Kenya Women Premier League side Kisumu All Starlets and Division One side Kisumu Hot Stars have used Moi Stadium for their home matches.
In a letter dated March 18 and addressed to County Secretary Geoffrey Kigochi, the anti-graft agency said it is investigating claims that some county officials might have tampered with the tendering process, whose work began in December, last year.
In April last year, Kisumu County allocated Sh90 million for renovations.