Guarded hope for long-suffering youth as facelift of Kitale’s Kenyatta Stadium begins
What you need to know:
- The stadium has been neglected for years, prompting athletes and some football teams to hold competitions at the privately owned Ndura Sports Complex situated along the Kitale-Kapenguria road
- The main pavilion at Kenyatta Stadium has worn out benches with rusted metal, poor/lack of roofing, filthy toilets, the drainage system is poor and the surface of the pitch is uneven
- Natembeya said that the first phase of the project will cost Sh657 million
Finally, the much-awaited renovation of Kenyatta Stadium in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County has begun with Governor George Natembeya doing the groundbreaking ceremony for phase one of the project.
The stadium has been neglected for years, prompting athletes and some football teams to hold competitions at the privately owned Ndura Sports Complex situated along the Kitale-Kapenguria road.
Located near the busy Laini Moja street — about 1.2 kilometres from Kitale town — the Kenyatta Stadium is in a sorry state.
Last week, machines rolled into the stadium in readiness for construction work to begin. This has given hope to the talented youths of Trans Nzoia who lack a venue to develop their careers.
The main pavilion at Kenyatta Stadium has worn out benches with rusted metal, poor/lack of roofing, filthy toilets, the drainage system is poor and the surface of the pitch is uneven.
The stadium, which sits on six acres, is surrounded by schools, business premises and residential houses. Ten acres, that are part of the stadium, have been grabbed.
Governor Natembeya has warned the people who have grabbed public land to surrender it before they are cornered.
The colonial stadium that was built in 1958 was once famous for football in the region. Sadly, it has now been turned into grazing land for livestock and a resting ground for idlers.
“We want to build a good stadium that will attract even teams from our neighbouring countries, but we still have a problem with those who grabbed the public land. They should just do the honourable thing and return the public land because we need bigger space for the project,” said Natembeya.
The governor also said that he has formed a taskforce to investigate if there was money allocated to the project by the previous county administration.
Natembeya said that the first phase of the project will cost Sh657 million. The money will be used for laying a pitch with the recommended Fifa standards, a 400 metres track for athletics that meets the World Athletics standards. He said that the project is expected to be completed in 18 months.
The drainage system, VIP terraces, fans’ terraces and the roofing, changing rooms, offices and indoor games rooms will be built in the first phase.
“We have had discussions with the contractor and agreed that he could work day and night and deliver the stadium even before the 18 months elapse, depending on the supply of money from the national government,” said Natembeya.
The governor also said that it is a pity that there is no proper stadium in the North Rift region yet most athletes hail from this part of the country. He said that the government needs to be serious and invest in sports facilities for talent development.
“We have so many athletes who come from this region including the former 800m World Athletics Under-20 Championships winner, Emmanuel Wanyonyi, who are forced to seek alternative venues for training. It’s a sad affair, and as leaders, we need to change things and make sure we develop talents. I believe lack of good facilities will be something of the past in Trans Nzoia,” said the governor.
Trans Nzoia resident Ferdinand Barasa was delighted to see machines arriving at the stadium. He said that the youth in the region have been languishing in poverty, and it is their hope that the project will create employment for them.
“We have very good players at the grassroots who have almost lost hope, and some are now trapped in drug abuse. The governor has done a good thing to start a project that will create employment and we shall be able to watch matches here once the stadium project is completed,” said Barasa.
Trans Nzoia is home to great football players and football officials. Kakamega Homeboyz’s coach John Baraza, Ulinzi Stars’ coach Bernard Mwalala, and former national team Harambee Stars’ player Sammy Sholei, among others, are from the county.
Tomorrow: The launch of Dandora Stadium project was welcomed with a lot of joy. But now a gigantic, incomplete building wastes away on site as time flies past.