Six hotels in Nakuru that were contracted to host teams during this year’s Confederation of East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup have given the Football Kenya Federation three days to pay them outstanding debts, failure to which they will seek legal action.
More than two weeks since the tournament ended, teams and officials hosted by the hotels have left behind huge bills totaling close to a million shillings.
The federation has been left with an egg on its face after owners of Genevive Hotel, Abbey Resort, Citymax, Chester Hotel, Golden Palace and Alpine Hotel met in Nakuru on Monday and gave FKF three days to pay up, failure to which they will move to court.
“There was no credit arrangement with FKF when we agreed to host the teams. We were supposed to be paid in cash but the federation has been shifting goal posts for the last 28 days,” said Gichini, a manager at Genevive Hotel and who is also the secretary general of Hotels Managers forum in Nakuru.
The proprietors confirmed they are still owed more than 800,000 in unpaid bills weeks after Nakuru hosted four matches of the tournament.
On December 5, Alpine Hotel was compelled to detain two senior officials from Sudan and Somali who were members of the tournament’s organising committee for more than seven hours after the FKF failed to pay their bills amounting to Sh230,000.
The two officials – Abdigani Said Arab from Somalia and Tarig Atta from Sudan – were kept under tight security check by private guards at the hotel before they were released on condition that FKF would settle their hotel bills without further delay.
But 26 days after this embarrassing incident, the management of the hotel which is based along Nakuru’s Kanu Street say they are still waiting for the FKF to settle the bill.
“I have been receiving calls from FKF and from the agents (tours and travel company Liberty Agents) asking for our bank details and I have been hoping that they will pay us but they have been giving empty promises,” said Patricia Maina, one of the directors of the hotel.
She added: “I will not give them my bank details again because they have remained slippery even after we offered them services and they ate our food.” Gichini also confirmed that the teams were booked at the hotels by Liberty Agents on behalf of the FKF.
“Our hotel is owed more than Sh200,000 and this agent (Liberty Agents) has kept telling us to send them scanned invoices, which we have done but they are still silent on the issue of our payments,” said Gichini.
Gichini added that the managers of the affected hotels will not sit and things unfold but will take action.
“We are not going to keep quite again because we can’t operate like this in a hospitality industry like ours where we deliver services and expect to be paid in the shortest possible time,” Gichini said on Monday.
Boniface Oduor, manager of Abbey Resort where officials and players of Burundi and South Sudan teams were booked, says FKF owes the hotel more than Sh260,000.
“We were promised by the Liberty Agents who were appointed by FKF that we shall be paid our debts by Christmas but despite giving them our bank details, we are yet to receive the payment,” said Oduor.
He said his employer was now pushing him hard to make sure Liberty Agents clears the debt before he is paid his December salary.
“I’m now carrying a burden that has also embarrassed me financially. I have not and will not been paid my December salary until the debt is paid in full,” lamented Oduor.
He said he was contemplating taking legal action against Liberty Agents if they fail to settle the debt soon. “Every time we ask FKF to clear our bills, nobody seems to give us a concrete answer as we are told to wait but we have waited for a long time now,” said Oduor.
Earlier this month when the two Cecafa officials were detained at Alpine Hotel, FKF’s head of leagues and competitions, Doris Petra, said there was a small misunderstanding between the FKF and the hotel management on the mode of payment of the bill.
Speaking to the Daily Nation on telephone after the saga, Petra said FKF has since cleared the bills.
Efforts to get comments from Liberty Agents CEO, Deborah Mbula, proved futile as calls to her went unanswered. Calls to FKF chairman Sam Nyamweya also went unanswered.