Sports suffers as work on Nyayo Stadium drags

Wednesday September 18 2019

Kenyan Premier League clubs have continued to lose millions of shillings in revenue since the government closed Nyayo National Stadium two years ago for renovation.

At the time, it appeared the government was struggling to build world-class stadiums to host international competitions as promised by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto in 2013.

The cheaper alternative was, thus, to upgrade the existing sports infrastructure. And as Sports Cabinet Secretary at the time, Hassan Wario explained in 2017, Nyayo Stadium was closed for 'a few months' for a spruce up in time to stage the 2017 IAAF World Under-18 Championships and 2018 African Nations Championship (Chan).

It never happened. Consistent delays in completing the work which have continued to date forced organisers of the athletics meet to take it to Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Confederation of African Football (Caf) stripped Kenya of the hosting rights for 2018 Chan, and Morocco hosted the tournament instead.

Meanwhile, local football clubs such as AFC Leopards, Mathare United, Posta Rangers, KCB and Sofapaka, which had been using Nyayo National Stadium for home matches, are feeling the pinch.


AFC Leopards have had to travel to venues in Machakos, Kakamega, Mumias and Nakuru to play league matches.

"We use an extra Sh200,000 each week to travel out of town for these matches. But most of our fans cannot afford to follow us all the way to these locations to watch the team play. So the gate collections have dwindled," explained Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda.

But the clubs will have to wait longer to access the facility. A spot check by Nation Sport confirmed the renovation work at the stadium is nowhere near completion. For instance, the stadium’s parking lot appears to have been abandoned years ago and grass has started growing through the cement.

Offices which have been under construction within the stadium remain unfinished, but armed guards remain on the site.

Inside the stadium, the coat of paint that had been applied to the walls is falling off. Seats numbering 25,000 were to be fitted in the stadium but that is only 30 to 50 percent complete.

The remaining seats can not be fitted as the supplier is still demanding payment from the government. There are no goalposts on the pitch, neither is there a perimeter fence keeping fans away from the pitch.

Grass has sprouted on the concrete slabs and on stairs leading to the terraces, suggesting it has been a while since the contractor was on site. The electronic board and large screen TV are also yet to be fitted.

Wario and his successor Rashid Echesa promised to build four dressing rooms to make the facility capable of hosting two international matches in a day but not a single one is ready.

Neither are washrooms. When the stadium hosted national athletics trials last week, athletes who were staring at the prospect of changing clothes in the open used a make-shift changing room, and there were no showers for them after competing in various races.

The nearby swimming complex has also been closed but no work is going on inside. The Indoor Arena is in a sorry state, with a leaking roof. The closure of the stadium has also affected businesses nearby with most shops and canteens closing down.

Sports CS Amina Mohammed and Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia have occasionally invited the media for tours of the stadium. Such tours have always ended with a promise that the stadium will be ready “in a couple of months.”

"When Caf said we will not host the competition (Chan), we decided to plan and do a better job," Kaberia said days after work had started at Nyayo.

Sports Kenya, the State parastatal that runs the stadium, is under investigation by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over irregular award of tenders worth over Sh5 billion for the construction and renovation sports facilities across the country.

Under probe is the failure by Sports Kenya to remit Sh287.693 million in statutory deductions for previous years, and about Sh2.450 billion dished out to six contractors in 2017 for the construction of eight county stadiums that remain incomplete with a majority being abandoned.

Renovation works on five premium pitches and ten training grounds were to be completed within 14 weeks in readiness for the January 2018 Chan that was to be held in Kenya.

The EACC officers are using the report of the Office of Auditor-General for the year 2017/18 currently before the National Assembly, in their investigations.

Sports Kenya Chairman Fred Muteti was not available for comment and thus we could not establish how much money has been used and when Nyayo Stadium will be ready.

Nyayo Stadium was built in 1983 as a multi-purpose stadium, at the time the country had established itself as a continental sporting powerhouse.