What you need to know:
- While the idea was to upgrade the facility to international standards, what is shaping up is a fenced playground with a dais six years after its commencement
- The upgrading is being carried out by the national government in partnership with the Nyeri County Government and was supposed to happen in two phases at a cost of Sh480 million
- A step inside the site, one is greeted by uneven ground, heaps of red soil, logs, rumbles from a demolished perimeter fence, and abandoned concrete mixers
Ruring'u is today's version of the Tower of Babel.
If the Bible was to be re-written in the Kenyan context, Ruring'u Stadium in Nyeri would befit the Tower of Babel.
While the idea was to upgrade the facility to international standards, what is shaping up is a fenced playground with a dais six years after its commencement, a complete contrast to what the original design indicated.
According to Nyeri Town Member of Parliament Duncan Maina Mathenge, "Ruring'u is a perfect example of how government projects should never be done.
“There cannot be a logical explanation as to why this is not complete seven years down the line. This is another sinking hole for public funds."
The upgrading is being carried out by the national government in partnership with the Nyeri County Government and was supposed to happen in two phases at a cost of Sh480 million from which Sh280 million was to cater for the first phase which has never been completed to date.
The devolved unit was tasked with providing the land and erecting a perimeter fence to secure the sports facility.
Nyeri Sports Executive Margaret Macharia expressed her disappointment over the slow progress of the project terming it a big joke to the people of Nyeri and the region.
Initiated by Jubilee government
“Time is a factor of accountability and as a county, the Ministry of Sports owes Nyeri people an explanation on how six months became six years. We have been at a loss both economically and socially," said Macharia.
A makeshift iron sheet gate at the main entrance of the sports facility signals the sad state of the project which was one of 10 which initiated by the Jubilee government. A step inside the site, one is greeted by uneven ground, heaps of red soil, logs, rumbles from a demolished perimeter fence, and abandoned concrete mixers.
On the western side of the stadium stands one incomplete dais that is supposed to harbour the changing rooms, a sports gallery shop, a restaurant, and a VIP section.
Next to it, on both sides, are the other two upcoming dais but at the foundation level.
At the centre of the site is a fading red tartan athletic track that was laid over a year ago snaking around a mowed football pitch.
A spot-check by Nation Sport on Saturday established that work stalled at the site a month ago with less than five workers on the ground following a directive by Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba freezing stadium works across the country pending an audit.
The place appears open with fewer trees compared to last year since the contractor has excavated more area for spectators' pavilions and other facilities under phase one of the project.
The construction was launched in June 2017 by former President Uhuru Kenyatta, then Head of State, under the promise that it would be completed in six months, but that proved to be a catchphrase at the height of his re-election bid.
As a matter of fact, work stalled three months after the launch following a dispute between the Kenya Power Company and the contractor over a power line that had cut through the facility.
The power company was demanding Sh1.4 million to reroute the line as the contractor then stood his ground that the amount was not factored in his quotation. The matter was resolved after a year of back and forth.
In 2018, work stalled for a record six months due to the delayed release of funds forcing the contractor to withdraw his machinery and workers from the site.
The site became a venue where government officials and politicians would converge and exchange “hot air” in front of the journalists in the pretext of pushing the completion of the facility with nothing much yielding.
Even a promise by President William Ruto, then the Deputy President, in 2020 during the Wahome Gakuru Memorial race that the stadium would be completed fell on deaf ears.
Shame to the government
Nyeri FC’s head coach Robert Muraya lamented that the delay has denied local sportsmen and women opportunities that would come with big teams staging competitions at the venue.
"We have seen the effort by the area MP yet nothing has been going on, We are calling upon the president to intervene now because as it stands now this is a shame to the government," said Muraya.
The area MP wondered how the government officials are getting time and money to push Embu Stadium which will host this year's national celebrations of Madaraka Day and forgetting about Ruring'u.
"Wang'uru, whose work was started after Ruring'u and now Embu, is being pushed. Are Nyeri people children of a lesser god? Now that I have been literally to every office, and the Sports CS has pronounced himself that he has suspended all projects upon resumption of Parliament, I will be tabling a question in the House seeking an explanation as to what has been happening to Ruring'u stadium," said Mathenge.
The effort by Nation Sport to get a comment from the contractor George Kihoi of Comnet Technologies did not bear fruit.
Tomorrow: Construction of the Kapkatet Stadium in Kericho County has stalled for over 16 years.