Five years after Nakivubo stadium was demolished to pave way for its reconstruction, little progress appears to have been made. The contract to reconstruct the stadium was first awarded to another firm before it ended up in the arms of businessman, Ham Kiggundu.
In part one of our two part series, Daniel Lutaaya looks at the machinations that led to this state of affairs.
On 28th February 2017, a few terraces of the Nakivubo war memorial stadium were demolished. This followed 30 days of intense bickering between traders of the park-yard market and the pro-Nakivubo development authorities.
This would be the start of a now five year back and forth process whose only visible result is an incomplete, unusable stadium.
On the day the stadium was closed, it was supposed to host a Uganda premier league match between Police and Onduparaka FC only for the game to be moved to the Phillip Omondi stadium in Lugogo.
Nakivubo Stadium had for long been a contentious issue in the politics of Kampala.
Park-yard vendors market had existed for more than 30 years but not without contention. The Nakivubo Stadium Board of trustees wanted vendors evicted to pave way for re-development into a modern parking area.
In a letter dated February 20, 2017, Kampala Affairs Minister Beti Kamya gave the vendors 30 days to vacate the market. Nakivubo was being demolished.
Enter Hamis Kiggundu
The eventual developer of Nakivubo Businessman Hamis Kiggundu commonly known as Ham was actually nowhere in the initial dealings to redevelop Nakivubo.
According to court documents, Kiggundu’s Ham Enterprises did not bid to redevelop the stadium.
The stadium board had awarded the redevelopment deal to Futureland Uganda Limited and Bestin Limited.
The board changed its mind and awarded Ham Enterprises the deal.
Denis Ssembatya, a Nakivubo board of trustees member said Kiggundu had prior to the demolition been pictured showing architectural designs to President Museveni.
That, in many people’s eyes, was a sign that he had the blessing of the most powerful person in the land and to the nosy officials, he became “Mr Untouchable.”
The demolition of the stadium was in contravention of a court order and a resolution by the KCCA council that stopped Ham Enterprises from redeveloping the stadium until the court matters were resolved.
In a meeting a week after the demolition, KCCA reiterated that it was yet to approve any plans for the stadium redevelopment.
On January 18, 2017, Alex Mackay Ajiji, the deputy registrar, civil division of the High court, issued an order stopping Ham Enterprises from engaging in any redevelopments of Nakivubo stadium land.
The order followed a suit lodged by Futureland and Bestin (the original contractors) stating that the stadium was initially allocated to them for redevelopment, not Kiggundu.
Undeterred, government and Kiggundu ploughed on.
On 9th December 2019, Government revealed that it intended to amend the Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium Trust Act 1953 to improve governance of the facility.
The new amendment was meant to forbid any lease, sale or disposal of the property.
Shortly after, reports emerged that Kiggundu and the Nakivubo Board of Trustees had connived to mortgage the stadium to a tune of $7 million.
Ssembatya, the board member, refuted these allegations.
“The act doesn’t allow him(Ham) to mortgage the buildings. The buildings are not his. They belong to government” Nakivubo has never been mortgaged, the deeds are all still intact.”
In the next part tomorrow,we look at the plan and where the stadium reconstruction has reached now. Also, the lord mayor speaks out on Nakivubo saga.