If only sports-persons and sports enthusiasts in Siaya County were to say a prayer then there is hope that construction of Siaya County Stadium will proceed as scheduled.
The region has never had a modern stadium, thus the ongoing work at the facility is a ray of hope for athletes because they will have a conducive place to train and play.
The construction of the Sh390 million stadium, which is one of Governor Cornel Rasanga’s flagship project, is being undertaken by Jiangsu Provincial Construction Company Limited.
Once complete, it should accommodate 20,000 fans. Other components of the stadium include offices, changing rooms, indoor training facilities and floodlights.
During the project’s launch in October 2018, the Siaya County Government envisaged that construction would take 10 months.
However, 19 months later, the project’s supervisor estimates that only 60 percent of the work has been done.
When Nation Sport toured the facility on Monday, only a few workers were on the site.
One of the supervisors, who spoke to this writer on condition of anonymity, said that because of the coronavirus pandemic, the contractor has scaled down the number of workers to between 20 and 25 people per day.
“We are deploying a small number so as to observe the Ministry of Health protocols on Covid-19, particularly in regards to social distancing,” he said.
The perimeter wall surrounding the stadium has been completed. Some other areas that have taken shape include the pitch, podium and terraces.
An eight -lane athletic track is also expected to be done to World Athletics standard.
Currently, workers are building latrines next to the stadium’s seven entry points.
The terraces will accommodate 15,000 people while the pavilion will have a capacity for 5,000 and another 5,000 at the amphitheatre.
"The pavilion will have changing rooms, a VIP lounge and a police post," the supervisor who didn't want to be identified, said.
Because of the disruption caused by the pandemic, the project’s supervisor and Siaya County Director of Communication Jerry William Ochieng were uncertain on when the construction will end.
“We can't predict when it will end, however, the work at the stadium is ongoing though with less workforce as we are guided by the national guidelines of social distance,” Ochieng, who is of the view that 90 percent of the project has been done, said.
With the project, Siaya County Government hopes to promote sports in the region and also improve its revenue collection through sports tourism.
“The aim of constructing the stadium is so that Siaya residents can access modern sporting facilities and develop their talent,” Ochieng said.
“The stadium will also provide international sports arena for major national and international events which will attract revenue and create direct and indirect employment for Siaya residents.”
The county further hopes the stadium shall also lend itself to socio-cultural events, gatherings and conferences.
Although Governor Rasanga had encouraged the public to be vigilant and report progress of the construction to his office as a way of playing a watchdog role, the site remains inaccessible.
Anyone seeking to gain entry into the stadium must seek permission from the county government.
During the contract signing ceremony Rasanga said: “I encourage the public to fully participate in the construction process and frequently report to me the progress because public funds should be utilised prudently,” he said.
The devolved unit declined to disclose the amount of money that has been paid so far to the contractor. It also refuted claims that the cost of the project had gone up because of the delay in completing the work.
“The cost has not gone up. I am not aware of the cost alterations from what was quoted,” Ochieng said.
He added that the original plan had not been amended adding that what the contractor was implementing was the same plan as indicated in the bill of quantity.
“The plan was delayed because of the shipment of some materials from China and natural issues such as rain,” the official said.
Nation Sport established that although the contract was signed in October 2018, the contractor moved to the site officially on February the following year.
Siaya County have drafted a sports policy which is yet to be put to use because the county cabinet is yet to ratify it.
The officials at the sports docket say the county is in the process of improving sports grounds cross the county such as Musembe in North Gem Sub-County, Akala in Wagai, Migwena in Bondo and Nyilima in Rarieda.
However, apart from Musembe Primary School project in North Gem Ward where the county government put goal posts, netball posts and handball posts at a cost of Sh150,000, most of sports projects have either stalled, been abandoned or done shoddily by contractors who got the tenders.
At Akala Stadium in South Gem Ward, area MCA David Onyango Audi is still waiting for a response to a statement he issued in the assembly demanding to be issued with a Bill of Quantity (BQ) for the Sh4.3 million project which kicked of in 2017/18 financial year.
"The project execution was poor. The levelling of the pitch was shoddy, it is not flat and the stadium doesn't have drainage," he said.
The MCA lamented that some county officials and contractors collude to ensure MCAs and members of projects management committees keep off the implementation process.
"You can't access the plans and BQ. Supervision becomes hectic," Audi said.
Apart from goal posts, fencing of the pitch, there wasn't much to write home about, he said.
At Migwena Stadium in South Sakwa Ward, MCA Edwin Odhiambo described the ongoing project as a total mess.
He told Nation Sport that in the financial year 2018/19 assembly allocated Sh10 million for the project which was later reduced to Sh3 million in 2019/20 financial year.
Odhiambo said, “Very little work has been done at Migwena Sports ground. As a leader, I am not happy.”
“The contractor should have done a twin pavilion, changing rooms and ablution block. The pavilion is stuck at slab level while the ablution block is at 50 percent.”