What you need to know:
- Kisii County was to hold last year’s celebrations but due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the fete was held virtually.
Kisumu County is racing against time to complete the Sh415 million Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium ahead of Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and other dignitaries will lead the nation in the celebrations.
The 30,000-capacity stadium will have fields for sporting activities including football, rugby, tennis and hockey.
The presence of the military, who arrived two weeks ago, and jets in the county’s air space has given locals a taste of what will take place on June 1.
The State Lodge in Kisumu is also a beehive of activities, with renovations taking place as a State lunch will be held there following the celebrations.
The county commissioner’s residence, where some guests will be hosted, is being roofed.
Ina ddition, roads leading to the stadium have been paved while those that had been tarmacked have been marked in preparation for the celebrations.
Works on the 63km Mamboleo- Miwani-Chemelil-Muhoroni-Kipsitet road, costing Sh4.9 billion, have started even as the contractor working on the Kisumu Boys’ Mamboleo dual carriageway rushes to complete it as the President and other guests will use it.
Kisii County was to hold last year’s celebrations but due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the fete was held virtually.
Counties have been hosting the major national holidays events on a rotational basis to give all the people the opportunity to enjoy State celebrations.
On Thursday, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho led a delegation from the National Celebrations Committee in touring the stadium ahead of the 58th Madaraka Day celebrations.
He was accompanied by State House Comptroller Kinuthia Mbugua, PSs Mr Joe Okudo (Sports), Esther Koimet (Transport), Jerome Ochieng (ICT and Innovation) and other government officials.
Host Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, County Commissioner Josephine Ouko, Nyanza Regional Commissioner Magu Mutindika and Nyanza Regional Commander Karanja Muiruri were also part of the team that visited the stadium at the Mamboleo Show Ground.
The team arrived in the morning, and after a courtesy call at the regional coordinators’ office, headed to the grounds where a planning meeting took place for almost four hours.
Dr Kibicho said the government settled on Kisumu after receiving proposals and undertaking consultation.
“We have done thorough inspection. The committee is satisfied that we are on course. By May 15, everything will be set,” he said.
“We shall assess it then with the media present. It is not the first time we are doing things faster than expected to meet deadlines.”
Dr Kibicho further said that all agencies involved in the preparations, including the Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Rural Roads Authority and Kenya Power, have assured everything will be ready in time.
There have been variations in the design of the stadium to accommodate more people, with the Interior PS saying there will be four additional terraces as well as an extension of the VIP dais.
“Stadiums are not constructed to host such events and ordinarily, we would have put a temporary extension to accommodate the presidential party and then withdrawn it, but since we have a big space here, we decided to place a permanent one that will also help with future events,” he explained.
Due to restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19, the celebrations will take place both physically and virtually, as the social distancing requirement will limit the number of people at the venue.
It is not clear, however, whether the stadium will host the much anticipated match between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, as promised by the head of State, to signify its official opening.