Little-known Kapkatet Stadium in Kericho County which is under the purview of Sports Kenya is perhaps better known for hosting political rallies than sports activities.
Situated few kilometres from Kericho Green Stadium, the only notable features in the sports facility is a perimeter wall and overgrown grass on the football pitch. Pit latrines meant to serve people have broken doors, and sheep roam freely inside the compound.
Athletes from surrounding areas cannot train at the stadium for fear of incurring career-threatening injuries on the uneven surface. Nation Sport team found people sleeping under the trees in the stadium, perhaps sheltering themselves from the scorching heat of the sun.
In its current state, local football teams like Cheplanget FC, Sosit FC and Chebitet FC have been using the facility for training. Despite the national government pumping Sh200 million towards the construction of the historic Kapkatet Stadium, a perimeter wall is all there is to show for it.
The National Youth Service (NYS) was contracted to construct the stadium between 2015 and 2017 in a deal shrouded in secrecy. Nobody was willing to divulge details to Nation Sports on the scope of work done. Stakeholders were not involved in the project through a public participation before work started. Both the local administration and the county leadership were unable to provide details on the project.
NYS staff who undertook the project clashed with locals who staged a series of protests, accusing them of, among other things, theft, thuggery and rape. The contractor cut down and sold hundreds of indigenous trees which had formed a canopy around the stadium amid protests from the locals.
Locals valued the historical indigenous trees which had been used during cultural events. Planted in the early 1940s, the trees were nurtured by the community which considered them sacred.
“It is important for the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Auditor General to audit how tax payers’ money was spent on the project,” Samwel Koros, a resident, said.
Koros says construction of the stadium was not done to international standards, pointing out that the contractor only constructed the wall and levelled parts of the field.
“We raised a lot of complaints on the matter, but no one paid attention. Some of the construction material was sold at night. If an audit were to be done, shocking details would emerge,” said Koros.
The only entrance to the stadium is a small gate. During political rallies and sporting activities, motor vehicle owners struggle to get in and out, and no parking space is provided. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have repeatedly stated in public that Sh200 million had been allocated for construction of the stadium. Records indicate that the stadium sits on 14 acres of land but in truth, private developers have encroached on the land and the stadium sits on less than three acres.
“When the perimeter wall was erected, it helped keep off land grabbers who had placed beacons on the stadium land, leading to a public outcry,” Kericho County sports officer Charles Ngerechi said.
Ngerechi said one of the two pavilions in the stadium was constructed by tea growing company James Finlays Tea Kenya as service to the community. Another was erected by the government years back.
The Kipsigis community has since time immemorial used the stadium to make major declarations and pronouncements on cultural and political issues, with presidential candidates holding meetings inside as they seek the community’s support.