Members of the Parliamentary Sports Committee Thursday expressed satisfaction with the ongoing works at the Nyayo National Stadium.
The news that this 30,000 seater stadium is now ready to host international and high-risk football matches has also been well received by small scale traders around the Nairobi West area, where it is located.
On Thursday, the Parliamentary Sports Committee chairman John Munyaka led a group of eight lawmakers on a tour of the facility. They later addressed the media and expressed their satisfaction with the renovations which have dragged on for three years, against an initial target of six months.
Others present during this inspection visit were Sports Kenya Chairman Fred Muteti, Director-General Pius Metto, and Public Relations Officer Rakki Asman.
"We have a bad history with this stadium. We missed hosting the CHAN (2018 Africa Nations Championship) here because of laxity by some officials in the relevant Ministry," said Munyaka, the Machakos Town MP.
"But now the committee is pleased with the progress of the work done here and we are also happy to learn that it is 95-percent ready. The contractor will hand it over to the government within a week."
Webuye West MP Dan Wanyama, a former Kenya volleyball player and member of the committee, also lauded the development.
"The stadium is now in good shape and athletes will love it. The government has not done a good job of maintaining stadiums. I suggest a private entity be contracted for that purpose," he said.
Munyaka added that his committee had toured and inspected the renovations at the Kinoru stadium (Meru), Ruringu (Embu) Marsabit Stadium, and Kipchoge Keino (Eldoret). The team had also received a report from the government on Wote Stadium and Karaite in Kiambu county.
"Kenyans should expect most of these stadiums to be ready within the next year."
Nyayo Stadium has traditionally been the home ground for Kenyan Premier League side AFC Leopards, with the memorable 3-1 win over Ethiopia's Coffee in the Caf Confederation Cup in 2011, and 2-2 draw versus South Africa's Supersport at the venue among the memorable results of the past decade.
AFC Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda says he is excited about the impending availability of the facility.
"The club has lost millions of shillings while travelling out of town to play games because most of the time, not all our fans can afford to follow us. Our revenue will improve by about 100 percent when we are allowed to use Nyayo, and the impressive results will follow," said Shikanda.
BACK TO BUSINESS
Traders who spoke to Nation Sport on Thursday also couldn't wait for the games to begin.
"I have suffered. I used to make Sh15,000 every time Harambee Stars are playing or about Sh10,000 when AFC Leopards or Gor Mahia have a match here. I cannot wait for next season to begin," explained Jackson Oduor, who owns Jabulani restaurant, located along the Langata road, a walking distance from the stadium.
Sports Kenya Chairman Fred Muteti also confirmed his team will wash and repair the running track at the facility within the next fortnight. The group is expected to head to the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, for the same purpose later in the week.
Among the repairs done at this facility include transforming it into an all-seater facility with red, black, green chairs all round resembling the Kenyan flag. The changing rooms have also been increased by two to four, complete with a safe for each locker where a player can keep his valuables.
This implies the stadium can host two international matches, one after the other has been played. Rooms for the match officials including referees have also been spruced up, alongside an anti-doping room and offices.
The VIP dias has also been handed a new look, with the pitch and parking lot has been laid afresh.