The Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, is receiving another major facelift three years after vandals defaced it and left behind a shell of the once swanky facility.
A spot check by Nation Sport at the arena showed renovation work was being done in the key areas, albeit at a slow pace.
The government closed down the 60-seater temporary on March 16 for refurbishment.
Pius Metto, the Director General of Sports Kenya, the government agency that manages state sports facilities, on Friday assured they are committed to elevating the venue to modern, world class standards.
Metto noted the fact that Nairobi will be hosting the World Under-20 Championships and the Continental Cup track and field conditions calls for revamping of the sports centre.
“We are focused on ensuring that we prepare the facilities to international standards for the World Under-20 Championships and even before that for the World Athletics Continental Tour which will be held on September 26,” Metto told Nation Sport yesterday.
Sports Kenya Public Relations and Communications Manager Rakki Asman added that works slowed down because of the restrictions that the government imposed owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Only a small number of workers are allowed at the venue at a given time. Naturally, work will slow down.
“We had completely stopped work when the government in March introduced measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. But we are slowly getting back on track,” Asman said.
Seats at the grand arena were being washed before harsh weather resistant paint is applied.
The broken seats will be replaced.
The warm up track now has a permanent sprinkle irrigation system after an additional borehole was drilled.
Two other boreholes had previously been sunk before Kenya hosted the 2017 World Under-18 Athletics Championship at the stadium.
Kasarani hosts four blocks at the hostels, and one of them is getting a facelift.
Workers are building a floor and new furniture is being fitted.
Electricians are also doing fresh cabling both at the hostels and at the main area to replace the previous power network that has aged with time.
The stadium was supposed to host the World Under 20 Athletics Championships from July 7-12 this year.
However, the event was postponed to a later date owing to coronavirus.
The building at the warm-up track has been designated for changing rooms ahead of the world junior event.
Workers are repairing the two digital photo-finish and electronic screens that will be used during the junior championships.
A new Stadium Police Station block is under construction.
Sports Kenya will relocate the old police station from the warm up track area once the new building is complete.
Asman said that the track will be cleaned to restore its original colour before the two major events — the World Continental Tour and the World Under 20 Athletics Championships.
He said the wall at the arena, which was built before Kenya hosted the All Africa Games in 1987, will be cleaned.
Asman said the biggest test Sports Kenya faces is preventing vandalism and theft at the stadium.
Kenya’s second stadium, the Nyayo National Stadium, which is also under renovation, also faces a similar risk.
“Vandalism in stadiums mostly occurs during football matches. This rarely happens when we have athletics events.
“Electric switches, lamps, taps and locks are the items stolen frequently in the ablution blocks. Additional CCTV cameras will be installed but that does not make the stadiums 100 per cent theft proof,” he said.
Asman said Sports Kenya incurs a lot of expenses when repairing damages in stadiums.
He appealed to football managers to educate their fans on the importance of maintaining them.
After Kenya successfully hosted the World Under-18 Athletics Championships, it earned the rights to host the World Under-20 Championships.
The initial budget for the World U-18 event was Sh2 billion.
However, renovations at Kasarani and at the athletes’ village at Kenyatta University pushed the budget up by Sh1 billion. The government chipped in to bridge the deficit.
On Friday, Metto added that a few technical adjustments were also being made.
“The javelin throw area during the World Under-18 Championships was not done well and we are now working with the technical team — led by Ibrahim Hussein — to correct this.
“Police occupying the warm up facility are now moving to a different building and that area will now be used as an ablution facility for athletes using the warm-up area in accordance with advise from World Athletics.”
On March 12, the government announced that it had set aside Sh322 million for renovation at Kasarani ahead of the World Athletics Continental Tour and the World Under 20 Championships.
The inaugural World Continental Tour that was slated for May 2 but was pushed to September 26 because of the virus.