How corruption and selfish politics stalled Voi Moi stadium upgrading project
Moi stadium in Voi, Taita-Taveta County. Named after the second and longest serving Kenyan presidents Daniel Moi, the sports and recreational facility has been dogged by controversy and divisive politics for about two decades now.
During the night, many weird things happen here. Commercial sex workers whose clients cannot afford a guest house for lodging facilities take a short trip to the facility and conclude their deals. So in the morning when you find spent cartridges at the facility don’t ask yourself how and why. Just mind your own business.
Mentally sick people and homeless loafers also find a temporary home here where they spend the night. So in the morning, under the shades of the few trees at the stadium periphery, you’ll find them fast asleep, curved up like carpenters’ rulers.
That is Moi stadium for you. Virtually all national holiday functions and other high profile open air meetings and crusades are held here.
Even retired president Moi, from whom the stadium is named, has held public rallies here.
And during political rallies the facility is the principal convergence point where Taita-Taveta county political rallies are concluded before party leaders and honchos fly out to Mombasa and other Coastal counties.
On the other hand the stadium is the prime facility of its kind in the fast growing Voi town and the county as a whole.
As such, its upgrading to modern standards is an issue that leaders, past and present, have been toying with but without much success.
Corruption, bad politics and muckraking have conspired to leave the stadium in a state of neglect, thereby denying the then Voi municipal council and now Taita-Taveta County government the much needed revenue.
The stadium, to begin with, lacks a secure fence has no grass turf and no podium worth writing home about.
However, recently there was a sigh of relief when a local contractor began putting up a modern podium that could have seen the facility assume the image of Bukhungu stadium in Western region, with a capacity to hold about 10,000 people. Many were optimistic that at long last a welcome reprieve had arrived.
Heavy earth moving machinery began work. Pillars begun coming up around the new podium. A temporary mabati fence was put up around the podium for security reasons. Then after a couple of months everything stopped.
Nobody knew what was going on as they went about their business. However, there were occasional lamentations: “Pesa zimeliwa”. That is a common allegation that most people make in passing, though without any iota of evidence.
What many did not know is the wheeling and dealing that was playing behind the scenes on the awarding of the tender contract.
The vermin began crawling out of the woodwork when the new governor Granton Samboja formed a committee at the behest of his chief of staff Philemon Mwaisaka that, among other things, was tasked to get to the bottom of all the projects awarded irregularly during the tenure of his predecessor John Mruttu.
Desperate to forge new alliances and boost his chances of re-election, Mruttu reportedly offloaded most pending project funds to his friends, who could bolster his chances of reelection with promises of “paying back in kind” sort of arrangement, once he returned to office. This was never to be, given that the engineer lost to the political greenhorn Samboja.
The report that was compiled by Mwaisaka team reveals a lot of discrepancies that bespeak runaway cronyism and graft, especially for tenders that were awarded shortly before the last elections, the Moi stadium one sticking out like a sore thumb.
The report indicates that the contract was awarded Sh 94 million despite the fact that only Sh 7 million had been budgeted.
It also reveals that there were two signed contract agreements with varying amounts of Sh 74.7 million and Sh94 million signed on June 13 and June 23 2017, respectively. This happened when the August elections were just around the corner.
“We hope the upgrading of the stadium will restart after about five months from now once the DPP is through with the project file”, said county sports CEC Bigvai Mwailemi.
The county minister pointed out their government placed a high premium on the sports and recreational facility and all efforts would be made for it to be upgraded to modern standards.
Mbololo ward MCA , Godfrey Mwambi, where the stadium is located, asked the government to sort out the controversy surrounding the project so that it can be completed.
“The stadium is a key facility in Voi town that will greatly improve the face of the town once completed and will also boost the revenue collected by the county government” said MCA Mwambi.
Meshack Mwamunga Kimbio, the Taita-Taveta branch chairman of the Kenya Football Referees Association(KEFORA) told Taita-Taveta Express that the association was keen to see the facility upgraded to modern standards as this would boost the state of sports, and more so football, in the county.
“Currently we do not have any stadium in the county that meets international standards and it’s our hope that Moi stadium will the first of its kind”, said Kimbio, adding that to most Voi residents, it mattered little who undertook the contract, as long as the facility was up and running.
In 2011 the government thwarted attempts by a private developer to grab the stadium and put up a commercial building on it. The then Voi Municipal Council had promised to set aside funds to upgrade the stadium to the standards of the Sheikh Abed Karume stadium in Tanzania. The plans came a cropper.
A couple of years earlier, plans to convert the stadium into a modern bus park ran into a storm after a section of leaders and religious groups; civil society and residents opposed the move.
1: Voi Moi stadium in its current state
2:County sports minister Bigvai Mwailemi