The government on Thursday formally handed over Nyayo Stadium to the contractor tasked with renovating the facility in readiness for next year’s African Nations Championship.
Kenya will host the biennial 16-nation football tournament, preserve of local-based players, and is racing against time to have all facilities ready for the continental football extravaganza.
The tournament will be held between January 12 and February 4.
Sports Kenya’s acting Director General Saima Ondimu confirmed at Thursday’s briefing the government had pumped in Sh3.2 billion towards renovating Nyayo and four other venues earmarked for hosting the tournament matches, namely Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi, Kipchoge Keino in Eldoret, Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos and Kinoru Stadium in Meru.
Also in attendance was the Department of Sports Deputy Secretary Muiruri Raphael, who represented Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, and Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa.
Nyayo will be completely shut from the public from Sunday until the construction works are completed in approximately four months time. The works include fitting seats, constructing additional changing rooms, laying a world class playing surface and installing electronic screens.
A further Sh2.8 billion has been set aside to meet the logistical costs such as accommodation, transport and other administrative costs. Caf officials are expected in the country for a four day inspection tour on September 7.
“We will work day and night to complete the works. We have done this before and we are ready,” said Lexis International’s Chandresh Babariya, the contractor.
Besides, eleven other venues, including Kenyatta University, Utalii grounds, Machakos Girls High School, Machakos University, Moi University School of Law and Eldoret Polytechnic will have their pitches spruced up to meet the required standards for training pitches.
A further Sh2.8 billion has been set aside to meet the logistical costs such as accommodation, transport and other administrative costs.
Caf officials are expected in the country for a four-day inspection tour on September 7, in a visit that is expected to determine whether or not the continental body will take away the hosting rights for this tournament from Kenya.
South Africa and Morocco have already been sounded out by Caf as alternatives should Kenya fail to make the cut.
“Caf says we have not done much and have issued an ultimatum. They need to find substantive work going on for us to stand a chance (of hosting the tournament),” Mwendwa explained.
Sixteen countries, namely hosts Kenya Nigeria, Uganda, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Morocco, Zambia, Liberia, Libya, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania, Sudan, Burkina Fasso and Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire have qualified for this tournament.