State of Stadia: At Wote Stadium, work stalled 6 months after DP Ruto launch
One of the lofty pledges made by the Jubilee Government in the run up to the 2017 general elections was to deliver seven state-of-the art stadia in the country in a span of less than a year in a bid to support the sports industry.
Close to two years down the line, the picture does not look rosy at all, what became of it?
Wote Stadium in Makueni County was among the facilities pledged by President Uhuru Kenyatta and was commissioned by his deputy William Ruto on May 25, 2017 in a ground-breaking ceremony.
The work started in earnest, expectations were high and excitement enveloped Makueni residents. But alas, it was just that,- a pledge, so it seems!
Fast-forward to 2019, Makueni’s quest of owning a befitting stadium to quench the itching thirst of sportsmen and women in the county, is slowly but surely fading away after the work on the site stalled just months after it had started.
According to Mwingi West MP Charles Ngusya who is also a member of Sports Committee in the National Assembly, the contractor awarded the tender has already been paid Sh89 million while only 30 percent of the work has been done.
Ngusya says the leadership of Sports Kenya told committee members that a further Sh174 million is needed to complete the work. The contract of the stadium was given to Taphes and Nitrame enterprises.
“We were told in six months time we will be smiling all the way to fill the stadium as our teams play in a world class environment but now it’s three months and there is little to smile about. Sports Kenya told us they will finish the work once they get the money and we hope they will do so,” he said.
Poignantly, a report tabled before the Committee last month showed the amount was unrecoverable and indeed more funds were needed to revive the stalled stadia projects across the country.
Appearing before the committee, Sports CS Amina Mohammed said that the ministry was supposed to receive Sh2.7 billion that would see out all the stadia project but received a paltry Sh424 million during the 2016-2017 financial year and Sh25m instead of Sh100m allocated during the 2017-2018 financial year.
A spot-check by Citizen Digital confirmed the ineptness of the government on its unfulfilled promises with the abandoned bushy land now left in the care of guards to keep an eye on the rotting structures lying aimlessly.
“Although I’m being paid to guard the materials left here I’m not happy as a youth because its three years now since DP Ruto launched the project. We were very optimistic in 2017 because the project was moving with speed but I don’t know what happened,” said the guard whose identity we’ve withheld for fear of reprisal.
As work drags on, many youths who were dreaming of a bright future after the completion of the facility has turned the heat on the Jubilee government for promising them a ghost stadium only for a political mileage.
“The biggest challenge in Makueni is lack of a stadium because we have many teams and talented guys. Had the stadium been completed it would have been a big relief for us,” said Danson Munyao, striker of Dream Team FC, a Wote based team.
Makueni Nunguni FC team which features in FKF Division One League, is the only team from the county – and has been forced to train and play home matches in pathetic conditions owing to lack of quality facilities.
To ease the situation, the area governor Prof Kivutha Kibwana has promised to build a stadium at Ngaakaa Talent Centre before he leaves office in 2022.
“Because the project by the national government has dragged on, we have discussed of having our own facility and soon we will start the work. Our ‘Ligi Mashinani’ has been successful for the last few years but quality is very important and that’s why we need to have our own stadium,” Kibwana revealed.
As President Kenyatta’s final term nears end, memories of what he promised to deliver to Kenyans on his first stab of presidency will still linger.