President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday ordered Sports CS Rashid Echesa to ensure the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games-bound Kenyan team are paid their allowances immediately.
The president, who hosted Team Kenya at State House, Nairobi, also directed the Ministry of Sports to pay all the pending cash rewards for athletes dating back to 2012.
Even though the media was not invited for the function, team officials and athletes, who attended the function disclosed that the president instructed the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) and Athletics Kenya officials to ensure the team is paid by 1pm Wednesday.
Echesa failed to get an applause from the athletes, when he announced to the head of state that the team had been paid their allowances.
“The president sensed that something was not right when he stood to speak. When he asked the team whether they had been paid, they uniformly said no,” said one of the top Nock official, who attended the function.
“The president said he will not allow athletes to be frustrated again.”
Team captain Elijah Manangoi confirmed the development saying that he had briefed Mr Kenyatta on their preparations and how ready and proud they were to represent the country.
“I told the president in my speech that medallists going back to the 2012 London Olympics up to date have not received their cash rewards,” said Manangoi.
“Most of us haven’t gotten our allowances for Commonwealth Games.”
Manangoi explained that the president directed Echesa to ensure that they are paid both their local and overseas allowances and that all medallists from previous events are fully paid when they return from Gold Coast.
“He told us to stage a sit-in at State House next time we visit if we will not have been paid,” said Manangoi.
In a statement from PSCU, President Kenyatta told the team that whatever the government has allocated in terms of allowances and rewards is their entitlement and they should not shy away from demanding them from federations.
Kenyatta said the country has an obligation to honour its sportsmen and women who raise the country’s flag high.
“There are things we agreed that need to be done for the rugby team, golf teams and other sportsmen and women, as we demand that they meet our expectations we also should do our part,” said President Kenyatta.
He directed Echesa and other senior ministry officials to ensure that the team is well taken care of before and after the games.
The president wished the team success as they prepare to leave for Gold Coast Australia for the Commonwealth Games due April 4 to 15.
President Uhuru Kenyatta further called on sports federations in the country to style up and ensure that all Kenyan sportsmen and women are well taken care of.
He said sports federations have a mandate to ensure Kenyan teams are well trained, prepared and catered for financially, even as they go out to represent the country in various fields.
“Every time we agree on what needs to be done, it should be fulfilled. I am perturbed that this has not been happening,” President Kenyatta said.
Echesa assured Kenyan sportsmen and women of his commitment to uplifting their standards as well as taking care of their wellbeing.
“I know our athletes have been undergoing a lot of frustrations. This will no longer happen under my watch,” he assured the President and the team.
He said sports federations, including the Athletic Kenya, Kenya Golf Union, Football Kenya Federation, Kenya Rugby Union, Cricket Kenya and Kenya Hockey Union, have to style up and ensure that they fulfil their mandate.
“We don’t take for granted that it takes a lot to be where you are. It takes a lot of effort to participate in the variety of international competitions,” said the president.