It is now two years since the Nyayo National Stadium was closed by the government for major refurbishment.
On August 24, 2017, then Sports Kenya acting Director General Saima Ondimu and a beaming Department of Sports Deputy Secretary Raphael Muiruri handed over the Nyayo Stadium key to Chandresh Babariya for contractors Lexus International.
The trio promised to have repairs at the 30,000 seater stadium completed in four months, in time for the 2018 African Nations Championship (Chan) that Kenya had won rights to host.
“We will work day and night to complete the works (within the timelines). We have done this before and we are ready,” said Babariya that afternoon.
But three months later, the Confederation of African Football lost patience and withdrew Kenya’s hosting rights.
CAF was disappointed after the government delayed payment to an international firm contracted to plant grass on the stadium.
“We only pay for work done,” said Sports PS Kirimi Kaberia.
The renovation works worth Sh450 million, include fitting seats, constructing additional changing rooms, laying a world class training surface, installing electronic screens, and taking down the main stand and redesigning it.
Last week, a shortage of stadiums forced the government to negotiate with the contractor to temporarily open the stadium so as it could stage the national athletics trials for the World Championships.
“The contractor still has the key (to the stadium). He hasn’t finished his work. We will use the facility for the trials and then let him finish his work,” said Sports Kenya Public Relations officer Rakki Asman.
A seasoned athlete who accessed and used the stadium argued it’s current state is worse than at the time it was closed down.