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Nairobi City Stadium’s shocking state of disrepair

By Charles Thuku
Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020
The artificial turf on the football pitch is no more with grass and soil taking over.
In summary

Nairobi City Stadium, one of the country’s oldest sports arenas, is slowly rotting away.

The main stand, commonly referred to as Russia by football fans, is almost being swallowed by bushes and overgrown grass and now serves as a breeding ground for rodents and reptiles.

The 10,000-seater stadium, that used to be the home ground of Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia, has become an eyesore and exposes the soft underbelly that is poor leadership in sports’ facilities management in Kenya.

Sources indicate that the contractor who was tasked with revamping the stadium to international standards in February 2019  downed his tools seven months ago due to failure by the government to remit pay.

When People Daily Sport team visited the facility, only a few workers who had been hired by the contractor could be seen next to their ramshackle dwellings.

A staffer at Nairobi City County who sought anonymity said that apart from the dressing rooms which have been reconditioned, work elsewhere is yet to start.

A tattered net at Nairobi’s City Stadium’s goal post. Photo/PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

Reached for comment, Nairobi County chief officer (Youth and Sports) Daniel Ngari said, as far as he is concerned, the contractor had declared that he would start work at the stadium immediately he was done with repairs at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Unfit to host competitive football

“The contractor gave an assurance that he would embark on repairs at the stadium and I don’t think it’s an issue of non-payment,” said Ngare.

It has now been 42 months since the facility, which was known as Donholm Stadium in the colonial era, was declared unfit to host competitive football matches.

Last year, the Kenyan Premier League’s Stadia, Safety, and Security Committee inspected the venue following complaints from footballers and the public.

The committee thereafter said the facility was not only in a poor state but was also a health hazard and should not host any Kenyan Premier League or international matches until necessary repairs are made.

Since then, there have been many promises from politicians and  government officials about planned refurbishment but nothing has been done. 

Today, the artificial turf is worn out and has been reduced into a mass of green and black rubber chippings.

The changing rooms and the stands, too, remain unattended an unimproved and it obvious that the initial work done was by inept contractor.

The battered technical bench. Photo/PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

In the to artist’s impression of the refurbishment, a parking lot was also earmarked but what stands in its place is an earth patch that turns muddy during the rainy season.

It can be recalled that in 2017, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko promised that the stadium would be upgraded to international standards but that, too, came a cropper.

Nicknamed Tok Komwanda

In May 2020, the Ministry of Sports said it had initiated talks with the Nairobi County Government to take over rehabilitation work at the stadium.

The common stand swallowed up by grass and bushes.  Photo/PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

Sports Principle Secretary Joe Okudo said talks were set to kick off between the national government and the county government, under which the stadium falls, to have it rehabilitated to international standards.

But almost two months down the line, nothing has been done as the stadium goes from bad to worse.

The stadium, nicknamed Tok Komwanda (behind Omwanda’s place – Omwanda was a famed Gor Mahia fan who lived next to the stadium) by Gor fans, has a rich history that belies its disrepair.

The current generation of players who have had a chance to use the facility may not be aware that it used to host the Gossage Cup, which is a forerunner of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, in the 60s when Kenya and Uganda dominated the championships.

Then much later in early 90s, the stadium was a popular venue for the Challenge Cup as well as the under-20 version of the regional event.  

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