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Wanjigi: Kenyans ‘didn’t need stadiums’ in 2012

Billionaire businessman Jimi Wanjigi has opened up on how he once shot down a proposal by China to build a stadium in Kenya as a ‘gift’ to then retiring President Mwai Kibaki.

In an interview with Citizen TV on Sunday, August 29, 2021, Wanjigi, who says he’s now trained his sights on succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta, argued that Kenyans were in need of roads as compared to stadiums at the time.

“I explained there are enough stadiums in Kenya and especially in Nairobi, at the time, what Kenyans need is an improvement of roads because our infrastructure under the previous administration had become very dilapidated. We managed to get a grant, a gift to the Kenyan people, of $150 million that did the road from the airport to Gigiri,” he revealed.

Wanjigi’s vision appears to sharply contrast with that of President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, who both promised to build five state-of-the-art stadiums in Kenya upon election in 2013.

The duo is yet to fulfill the promise, less than a year to the end of the term.

Kenya is a sporting giant on the international scene, considering the impressive returns by her athletes on the track and field, rugby pitch, and volleyball courts down the years.

But pundits argue these athletes lack the modern infrastructure and coaching methods needed to bring home more successs.

Wanjigi also confirmed he was involved in the planning and construction of the Thika Superhighway. The 50km 12-lane road linking Nairobi to Thika is considered one of the best projects of Kibaki’s presidency.

“I was an agent of companies that participated in Thika Road, I even raised the money, because Africa Development Bank (ADB) funded about Sh22 billion, there was a shortfall of about Sh10 billion, which we managed to raise from China,” said Wanjigi.

Retired President Kibaki commissioned the road in 2012 after four years of construction.

The project which, was funded by the Government of Kenya, African Development Bank, and EXIM Bank of China was initially estimated to cost Sh27 billion.

Wanjigi has also suggested that the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project was massively inflated.

He explained that China Road and Bridge Corporation wanted to build the railway under public–private partnership(PPP) to a tune of Sh55 billion.

“The intention when we began was that rail was going to be a private rail, nothing to do with the government. The government was just supposed to provide the land, which we were prepared to lease. What I recall of the project cost was something like Sh55 billion, and it was private. That was Sh55 billion from Mombasa to Malaba,” Wanjigi said.

The project has since cost upwards of Sh300 billion from Nairobi to Naivasha.