A Chinese firm awarded the tender to construct a 20,000-seater Siaya County Stadium has committed to hand over the facility to the county government in December.
Officials from Jiangsu Provincial Construction Company Limited gave the assurance to governor Cornel Rasanga on Wednesday when he led a high-powered delegation, including members of the county cabinet and the county commissioner Michael Ole Tialal on a tour of the facility to assess progress made so far.
While giving the commitment to Rasanga, the officials from the Chinese firm that won the tender for the Sh394 million project in 2018 said 70 percent of the work had already been done.
During the tour of the project, Rasanga inspected ongoing work at the pavilion, terraces, running track and the main football pitch.
“I am impressed by the work done so far by the contractor and I am happy that as one of my legacy projects, the stadium project is finally coming to fruition,” he said.
The signing of the contract between the county government and the contractor was done on October 2018, but work formally started on February last year when the contractor mobilised equipment and moved to the site.
Initially, the project had been earmarked for completion within a period of 10 months. Engineers from Jiangsu Provincial Construction Company Limited have however said it will now be delivered in six months.
On Wednesday, engineers on the ground said Covid-19 pandemic had greatly delayed the implementation of the project that has been billed as a game changer for the region.
The revelation to hand-over the facility in December may have rekindled hope for sportsmen and women in Siaya County together with sports enthusiasts whose only wish has been to see the County Stadium project proceed as earlier scheduled.
Speaking after the tour, Ole Tialal commended the county government for plans to improve sports infrastructure in the county. He said he would lobby the national government to allow Siaya County to host Jamhuri Day celebrations in December at the facility.
“We will ask President Uhuru Kenyatta to not only consider Siaya to host the national event at the stadium in December but to also attend the occasion as a way to celebrate its launch ,” he said.
Siaya County has never had a modern stadium, thus the completion of the facility promises to usher in a new era to sportsmen and women who will now have a conducive place to train and play.
Once complete, the stadium will have offices, changing rooms, and indoor training facilities. The main football pitch at the stadium will be fitted with floodlights.
When Rasanga toured the facility the workers at the site were racing against time. Unlike last year and in early June when Nation Sport team visited the facility and found just a handful of workers, on Tuesday, the numbers had doubled and the project site was a beehive of activities.
When Nation Sport visited the site on June 2, a supervisor on site said that because of the pandemic, the contractor has scaled down the number 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 with regard to social distancing,” he said.
Some of the work already done include at the time included erection of a perimeter wall around the stadium.
Other areas that have taken shape include the pitch, podium and terraces where the seats will be placed. An eight-lane athletic track is expected to also be constructed to World Athletics standards.
On Tuesday, workers were putting final touches on toilets located at the stadium’s seven entry points.
The stadium’s seating terrace will accommodate 15,000 people while the main pavilion will have a capacity for 5,000 people. The amphitheatre will hold another 5,000 people.
The pavilion area will have changing rooms, a VIP lounge and a police post.
With the completion of the multi-million project, Siaya County government hopes to promote sports in the region and to also improve its revenue collection through sports tourism.
According to Governor Rasanga, the stadium will increase the residents’ access to modern sporting facilities required for quality sports talent development and exposure.
“The stadium will also provide international sports arena for major national and international events which will attract revenue and create direct and indirect employment opportunities for Siaya County residents,” he said
The county further hopes the stadium shall also lend itself to socio-cultural events, gatherings and conferences.
Siaya County has drafted a sports policy but it is yet to be implemented because the county cabinet is yet to ratify it.
In early June, officials from the county’s sports department indicated that the county is in the process of improving various sports grounds cross the county. The list includes Musembe in North Gem Sub-county, Akala in Wagai, Migwena in Bondo and Nyilima in Rarieda.
The county government has different teams playing in Football Kenya Federation Division Two leagues and plans to support Bondo United which is expected to use the new stadium as its home ground.