State of Stadia: Kinoru promise that turned into despair
- For a region hardly equipped with sports infrastructure, there was hope that the renovation of Kinoru Stadium would present a new dawn for sport lovers and the entire populace
- Fast forward six years later and that hope is almost, if not completely, faded away and its place taken by anger and despair
When President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto announced in 2013 that they would factor in construction of five main stadia in Kenya as well as fund the renovation of other football grounds in the country -Kinoru stadium being one of them – excitement filled football lovers in the vast Meru region.
For a region hardly equipped with sports infrastructure, there was hope that the renovation of Kinoru Stadium would present a new dawn for sport lovers and the entire populace.
Fast forward six years later and that hope is almost, if not completely, faded away and its place taken by anger and despair.
It has been a long journey of ups and downs for Kinoru since it was first commissioned for renovation in 2014, by the then Meru Governor Peter Munya. It would then take seven months for the first phase of the renovation to be completed at a cost of Sh200m.
However the need to improve the status of the stadium to meet international standards would see the national government pump in more millions in order to improve the capacity as well as other facilities.
That sum has continued to increase over the years but minimal results seen on the face of the stadium.
A spot-check on the 30,000-seater Kinoru stadium paints a sorry picture of an ambitious project that has stalled even after raking in millions of shillings.
Leaking roofs, poorly kept surface with cows casually grazing on it, incomplete changing rooms as well as clogged drainage tunnels is what welcomes you to this stadium that just three years ago had played host to a Kenya premier league match between Gor Mahia and Tusker FC.
Minister of Youth, Gender and Sports in Meru county Koome Miriti has distanced the county from the stalling of the renovations at the stadium despite being closed for over six months.
“Kinoru stadium has been under renovations for years now. It’s not the county government of Meru that is doing the renovations. It’s the national government through the stadia management authority which now oversees everything.” Koome explains.
Indeed stadia management authority officials toured Meru last august to check on the goings-on at Kinoru, and they weren’t impressed by what they saw, lamenting about the slow speed of the contractor.
“When the officials from the board came here last year (2018), they weren’t impressed at all because they noted the renovations have taken longer than expected. By now, according to the plan that was in place, the stadium should have been complete and hosting kpl matches weekend in weekend out.” Koome says.
Koome adds that they have requested for swift completion of the renovations so that it can be handed back to the county government of Meru.
The renovation works are still on going at the stadium and it’s the hope of many that this famous ground that hosted KPL matches back in 1990’s when Mafuko Bombers were playing in the top flight league will be back to its former glory.
The local are also very optimistic that the completion of the stadium would rekindle the region’s love for the beautiful game.
“We have so many teams around here but they scramble for space in the local primary school grounds. This (Kinoru Stadium) can help host matches over the weekends and it would be great even for us to come and watch football matches,” a local fan noted.
Meru county government has also spent Ksh 164M to rehabilitate Maili Tatu, Githongo, Nguthiri and Kieni playgrounds in a bid to improve sporting facilities in the county.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Upper Eastern secretary Ken Rungu acknowledged the stadium’s importance in the region and said the region has huge potential of nurturing more talents if grounds such as Kinoru would be complete and ready for use.
“This region has so much of football talent. We only lack enough grounds to host these matches. For instance we have a county league that we are running and every weekend we struggle to get enough grounds to host matches and they end up being played in very poor pitches,” Rungu says.
Rungu enhances that it would make economic sense if the stadium was operational noting that fans across the region would be willing to pay to watch matches there.
“This stadium can generate revenue if only it’s completed and in good standards. Am sure KPL matches can bring fans here and that’s good gate collection for any team in the big time.” He added.
It’s the very same hope that the people of Tharaka Nithi County carry as they await the completion of the KSh 350M Kirubia stadium in the outskirts of Chuka Town.
Construction works at Kirubia Stadium commenced in 2016 and was scheduled to be completed in 2017, but that has not been the case.
However activity has been noticed in recent days as the contractor works to install an irrigation scheme, terraces as well as changing rooms having already completed the laying of the pitch.
If complete, the stadium is expected to have a football and rugby pitch, volleyball and basketball court as well as an athletics track.
Tharaka Nithi County Governor Muthomi Njuki has on numerous occasions expressed his gratitude and optimism that the stadium would offer a better home for local football leagues as well as attract division 1 and premier league clubs.
As the locals keep their fingers crossed in the hope that these mega projects will come to completion, the same way we hope that this will open a new page in providing the right infrastructure for nurturing talent in the up-country.
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