The Nyamira County Government is under the spotlight for neglecting sports facilities in the region despite having a budgetary allocation for improving stadiums in the county every financial year.
The county has no modern sports facility. The main sports facility, Manga Stadium, is in a deplorable state, yet construction work at the stadium was launched five years ago.
Sh64 million had been set aside to complete construction work on the facility in the 2014-2015 financial year, but only fencing was done.
Last year, an official at the county had hinted that construction work would be finalised last July, but even that deadline passed with nothing being done at the stadium.
“We will channel resources in the sports department towards completion of the stadium,” Bernard Osumo, the county executive in charge of sports at the time, said.
“There is no need of having many incomplete projects. Let’s finalise one major project, then deal with the others,” he added. In the 2018-2019 financial year, another Sh73 million was allocated to the same project, but no work was done. Once complete, the facility is expected to have a main stand, a VIP area with capacity for 4,000 and two spectator stands, each with a capacity of 1,400 fans.
The stadium is also expected to have standard changing rooms, security lights, treatment areas for players and an inner perimeter fence.
Efforts by Nation Sport to get comment from the county executive in charge of sports, Johnstone Obike, proved futile. Obike declined to comment on the matter.
“I’m not ready to talk about that issue now. I am attending to other official duties,” Obike said on phone.
Governor John Nyagarama appointed Obike about four months ago, sparking off protests from locals.
Construction stones and sand were transported to the site last Sunday at night after Nation Sport sought to know the fate of the stadium.
Nyagarama has since requested for financial support from the national government to complete work on the stadium, saying the devolved unit lacked adequate funds.
“As a county government, we have tried our best but that stadium requires a lot of money to finish, which is beyond our capacity,” Nyagarama told Nation Sport.
It is alleged that work on the stadium was stopped due to an unfavourable terrain which does not favour construction of the stadium.
Locals have been on record demanding a sports facility of a similar standard as the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega County or the Gusii Stadium in Kisii County.
It is not clear when construction work will start, and locals have urged the county government to speed up the works. Most locals Nation Sport talked to pointed out that sports officials in the county have not undertaken a major sports project since devolution started in 2013.
Locals, led by Angwenyi Gichana, a journalist, said talented athletes in Nyamira County lack training facilities. “We have to restore the lost glory as far as sports is concerned in Nyamira County. We have legends in sporting activities who did us proud but we are not nurturing future champions,” he said.
Although no team from the county competes in the national league of any sport locally, Gekomoni Secondary School from Nyamira has won the national secondary schools football title twice, pointing at the talent the county hosts.
Nyamira is also home to globally-acclaimed athletes who have brought Kenya glory internationally, led by Kenya’s pioneer Olympic gold medallist Naftali Temu. Others are Charles Asati and the late Robert Ouko, members of Kenya’s 4x400 metres relay team that won the first ever Olympic gold medal for the country in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, and sevens rugby star, Dennis Ombachi, and pioneer rugby legend Dan Kimoro.
Another athletics legend from the region is the late Nyandika Maiyoro, a pioneer Kenyan athlete who caught the attention of the world while competing for Team Kenya during the British colonial rule in 1956 in Melbourne.
Among Maiyoro’s key successes in athletics was his victory in 3,000 yards race at the 1953 Indian Ocean Games in Madagascar.