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Race against time as Kenya aims to impress CAF

An excavator goes on with work outside the Nyayo Stadium VIP Pavillion on August 24, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 25 – A lone excavator rumbles the quiet afternoon away at the Nyayo National Stadium VIP entrance, a typical day in the life of a Kenyan – last minute efforts to be 100 per cent ready.

Slightly over four months before 15 African countries land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) only one of the five proposed stadia, Moi Sports Centre Kasarani has ticked a few of the requisite requirements.

Work in the other four venues has just but started with the contractors having arrived from mid this month and the Sports Ministry as well as the Football Kenya Federation beaming in confidence they will be ready in time.

“There has been rumour here and there that CAF has already taken the games away. It is not true,” FKF boss Nick Mwendwa beamed on Thursday afternoon, at the height of rumours that South Africa and Morocco are already being lined up as replacements.

The contractors assigned to Nyayo Stadium, Lexis International arrived at the venue on Thursday and they have started preliminary preparations to give the facility a major overhaul. Kenyatta in Machakos, Kinoru in Meru and Kip Keino in Eldoret are also off to a start.

FKF presidnet Nick Mwendwa converses with the contractors on site at the Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) inspection team is expected in the country on September 7 for a final make-or-break inspection tour and from this is where the decision will be made on whether or not the tournament comes to Kenya.

According to sources, CAF is said to be uncomfortable with the speed of work completion, despite having received a full government commitment during their last visit in June. The reality that the continental body might be forced to look elsewhere is turning out stronger.

“We are trying to make sure by the time CAF is here, work has began and we have to show that we will be ready in four months.”

“I have the confidence that with the commitment I have seen from the government and contractors, we will do this. I know we are at risk that if we do not show this by 12th, then CHAN will be taken away. That is something that CAF made clear and I have accepted myself,” Mwendwa said.

“The agreement I have with CAF is that when they come here, they need to find 24 hours work and what could have been done by that time is done and most importantly show a plan of doing the remaining work.”

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Officials from the Ministries of Sports and Public Works hand over the Nyayo Stadium construction plan to FKF boss Nick Mwendwa and main contractors Lexis International. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“If we agree with them, they will have a delegation here every two weeks to oversee the work and furthermore, they will station someone here to make sure we don’t lag behind.”

On Thursday, the Sports Ministry and that of Public Works handed over plans of work to the civil engineers at Nyayo with strict instructions that everything should be complete in 14 weeks.

Acting Director General of Sports Kenya Saima Ondimu has confirmed that all contracts for builders’ works at all the five stadia have already been given out while the soft work contracts have been prepared and will be signed in due time.

Chandresh Babartya heading the Lexis International group at Nyayo has promised they will work day and night to ensure their share of work is complete.

The company is tasked with putting up a new VIP dais and office facilities which will mean an extension of the main office block. They will also be putting up new changing rooms as well as a new perimeter fence.

FKF president Nick Mwendwa addresses the media on August 24, assuring that everyone is working round the clock to ensure Kenya is ready for CHAN. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“Our target is 14 weeks and we are going to work day and night, we have done many projects like this before and we know we are going to do it. We have enough machinery and enough staff to do it,” Barbatya affirmed.

Close to Sh6bn has been set out for all the work needed to ensure Kenya is ready for the tournament with the civil works taking Sh2.6bn while the other administrative and soft work might take up to Sh3mn.

“We will start off with the main civil works to ensure the structures are in place which should all take a maximum of 14 weeks. From there, we will go on to the softer details like plumbing, pitch, floodlights, seating areas and ticketing which should not take a lot of time,” Sports Kenya boss Ondimu said.

Sports minister Hassan Wario had been scheduled to attend the Thursday evening activity at Nyayo, but was conspicuously missing with his representative, Deputy Sports Secretary Raphael Muiruri saying he had been unwell.

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