End sports venue crisis

Next month, the national football team, Harambee Stars, will play back-to-back Fifa World Cup qualifier matches away from home. They will first host Burundi at their adopted home of Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi, on June 7 and, four days later, on June 11, face Africa champions Côte d’Ivoire.

That Kenya doesn’t have suitable venues to host Fifa standard matches is despicable. Successive governments have allocated billions of shillings to renovation of venues such as Nairobi’s Moi International Sports Centre, at Kasarani, and Nyayo National Stadium, as well as Kipchoge Keino Stadium, in Eldoret, yet there is nothing to show for such expenditure.

At the moment, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is pursuing the prosecution of former government and football federation officials over the loss of Sh1.5 billion that was meant to organise the aborted 2018 Africa Nations Championships (Chan). This should also be a wake-up call to the national and county governments to uphold integrity, be proactive and invest in sports infrastructure.

The thousands of fans who would have visited Nairobi to watch Africa champions Côte d’Ivoire play will now troop to Lilongwe. That means we will have lost revenue and denied our fans an opportunity to see the top stars in action.

Meanwhile, counties shouldn’t wait for the national government to do everything for them. They need to invest in sports infrastructure, which will give them an attractive return on investment in the long run. That is why the ongoing renovations at, inter alia, Kasarani, Nyayo and Kakamega’s Bukhungu Stadium, alongside the construction of Talanta Stadium, in Nairobi, are commendable.

The works should not be rushed but completed—and to international standards. These venues will end the continuous drain on the Exchequer for ghost renovation projects.