The national government has yet again given a timeline of six months to upgrade Wang'uru Stadium in Kirinyaga County.
The Ministry of Sports has set aside Sh300 million to elevate the stadium to national status. Procurement for the project is expected to start this week.
With the clock ticking fast towards the set deadline, the contractor is expected to hit the ground running this month with a brief to complete the state-of-the-art sports centre by December and hand it over to the county government provided the land for the project.
It comes as no surprise when residents here take the promise with a grain of salt.
This is the second stadium, besides Ruring'u Stadium in Nyeri, which was launched with a lot of fanfare in 2017 only to stall after 30 percent work was done due to lack of funding.
The move to upgrade Wang'uru is seen as an indicator that the government is back on track to complete the county stadiums.
Work is underway at other county stadiums such as Kamariny in Elgeyo Marakwet, Ruring'u, Kipchoge Keino in Uasin Gishu, Karatu Ndarugu in Kiambu, Wote Stadium in Makueni, Marsabit Stadium, Kinoru in Meru and Kirubia in Tharaka Nithi.
"This stadium will accelerate growth in this town especially in the real estate and hospitality sector. We hope the government will keep its promise and compete the project by December," Charles Mugo, a local trader, said.
Former Mwea Member of Parliament Alfred Nderitu is happy with the revival of the project.
Tebere Ward MCA Gudson Muchina said that the former MP stopped the grabbing of Wang'uru Stadium land in 2005.
"Were it not for Nderitu, this could have become a residential area. He fought off land grabbers and reverted this stadium to the public. He even allocated Sh8 million for fencing the stadium and building toilets," Muchina said.
Since the introduction of the devolution, the county government has not done anything notable except routine maintenance.
Partly, local politics is also to blame for the poorly maintained stadium.
Muchina said the county assembly had proposed the allocation of Sh28 million in the 2017/2018 financial year for the project, but the money was diverted to Kerugoya Stadium.
Unlike many upcountry urban centres, Wang'uru town, and generally Mwea Constituency, a good percentage of local youth do not migrate to other towns seeking jobs since they make good money through rice farming which is one of the major economic activities.
Wang'uru is strategically situated along the Embu-Nairobi highway. More than 200 learning institutions, primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges use the facility for county and regional competitions.
President Uhuru Kenyatta initiated the plan to upgrade Wang'uru Stadium in February during his tour of Mwea Constituency where he inspected development projects in the area.
After his pledge on February 1, a high-powered delegation led by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, officials from the President's Delivery Unit and the Sports ministry toured the site after two weeks to make a roadmap for the project.
A week ago, the same team and the local leadership which included area MP Kabinga wa Thayu and Senator Charles Kibiru visited the stadium.
"This will not only be a landmark but also a game-changer in this area. We are urging the people in this town to see the opportunity for economic development since we want to stage local, national and even continental championships here," Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo, told residents during the visit.
The PS said that the President is keen particularly on the set timelines and even promised to stage the first football game in December during the handover of the facility to the county government.
Public Works' chief architect Silvester Muli said the stadium will have a capacity of 15,000 people and a parking area.