CHAN hangs in the balance, but FKF, Government remain hopeful

By alex wafula
Aug 25, 2017
  • The Nyayo Stadium VIP pavilion will be re-modeled. (Photo by Alex Wafula)

The current situation surrounding Kenya’s hosting of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) is reminiscent to 1996 when Kenya was on the verge of hosting the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The country had been given the hosting rights by CAF but, close to the tournament, the then President Daniel arap Moi said Kenya couldn’t host.

An angered CAF then handed the hosting rights to South Africa who went on to win the title.

The same situation is playing out again 21 years later with South Africa being touted among the probable fall back plan alongside Morocco if Kenya is not ready.

The continental football body is concerned that the stadia are yet to fulfill minimum requirements with only the Moi Sports Centre in Kasarani ticking a few right boxes.

Four changing rooms in each stadium, TV quality floodlights, good drainage, well labeled out seating areas and a clearly mapped out media centre are some of the requirements put in by CAF.

On Thursday, slightly over four months to the championship, a contractor, Lexis International had just started work at the Nyayo National Stadium.

The Ministry of Public Works and that of Sports handed over the stadium plan to the contractor who has been given 14 weeks to refurbish the stadium.

Nick Mwendwa, the Football Kenya Federation boss is confident that work will be complete in three months.

CAF team expected

A four-man CAF team is expected in the country on September 7 to assess the work and make a decision whether or not Kenya will be allowed to host.

“The agreement we have with CAF is that when they come here, they want to find work going on and a tenable plan on when we should finish. They are not coming to find complete stadia. They made it clear when we had a meeting in Morocco that if by 12th when they leave they will not be convinced, then CHAN is going. I agreed to that,” Mwendwa explained.

Kenyatta (Machakos), Kipchoge Keino (Eldoret) and Kinoru (Meru) are the other stadia which have been set out for CHAN. All will be closed after this weekend to ensure the work goes on uninterrupted.

Mwendwa confirmed that contractors are already on the ground. His sentiments were echoed by Saima Ondimu, the acting Sports Kenya Director general who affirmed that all contracts had been issued for civil work.

“We are committed to seeing this work out and contracts for the 'soft work' like plumbing and seat installation is ready. The only thing remaining is awarding them,” Ondimu pointed out.

Close to Sh6 billion has been budgeted for the tournament with Sh3.2m dedicated for the civil work of working on the major infrastructure. A further Sh2.8m has been set out for administrative and ‘soft work’.

Nyayo and Machakos will both need almost complete overhauls.

At Nyayo Stadium, the VIP Pavilion will be put up afresh while the main office block will be expanded to make room for new lounges and offices. The changing rooms have been shifted as well while the stands will be fitted with 30,000 seats.

“There is a lot of work to do, we admit that. But with the kind of commitment I have seen from government and the contractors, I am confident that we can pull this off. We have formed a committee that will be supervising all this work on all venues,” Mwendwa stated.

Last minute rush

But just as has been the norm, the last minute rush is set to check in. Kenya was awarded with the hosting rights in 2015 but since then, nothing much has been done to ensure facilities are ready.

“It is true that we have been late. But I can be held accountable with this; the process has started and we will not be late any more. The reason we started this three months to deadline is because of the government processes of procurement,” Mwendwa explained.

Raphael Muiruri, the Sports Ministry Deputy Secretary could not immediately explain why there was a delay. He only promised that the ministry is committed to ensuring work goes on as planned.

Speaking separately, Chanresh Babartya who heads Lexis, main contractors at Nyayo Stadium has promised that in 14 weeks, the new look Nyayo Stadium will be complete.

“We signed the contract because we knew we can do it and we committed. We have done such kind of high pressure work before and we are up to the task,” Babartya assured.

Despite all the assurances, worry still lingers as to whether everything will be ready by December, a month to the Championship according to CAF standards.

Mwendwa promised the contractors will work 24 hours to ensure completion. Not so much work is needed at Kasarani with most of the renovations having been done during the IAAF World Under-18 Championships.

The Kinoru Stadium in Meru also impressed the CAF team when they last visited in June. Worry was especially on Kipchoge Keino in Eldoret and that is why Machakos was drafted in.

Apart from the stadia, the Local Organizing Committee is also working on 11 training pitches.

Slow construction work in Eldoret

The slow construction work at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium has paved way for a fall back to a refurbishment of Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos. In Eldoret, Sports Kenya and the government has added another contractor to start phase one of the facility, Reports Emmanuel Sabuni.

The delegation led by Ondimu, CHAN director Herbert Mwachiro and Football Kenya federation officials said they are committed hosting the event.

Mwachiro insisted that the Kipchoge Keino Stadium will be ready to host the competition no matter what happens despite refurbishment expected to start in Machakos at the Kenyatta Stadium.

He said there was no worry for timelines.

“We don’t have a room for failure or worry about the timelines because all the machinery is in place. You can see the other contractor has already been handed the works and we are confident that the works will be accomplished on time,” Mwachiro promised.

The team has also identified Eldoret Polytechnic and Moi University School of Law fields as training grounds.

False reports

He said the reports doing rounds that Kenya will not host the events are false since the event has full support from the government.

“Already we have met the minimum CAF requirements in various stadia and we are on the critical stage of preparations,” Mwachiro explained.

Already phase two is ongoing and the new contractor named Shiv Construction Ltd will do phase One at the cost of Sh325 million. These include the VIP pavilion, conferences, terraces, and anti-doping rooms.

According to Shiv Technical Director Dilip Sutar said the works will be completed in 14 weeks since they already have two shifts.

“We are ready and the phase one works will be complete in 14 weeks. There will be two shifts each during the day and night to ensure that the works are done up to the standards and completed on time,” Sutar said.

Ondimu assured that the ministry will be paying the contractors on time upon the release of the certificates to avoid delays.