The minister of State for Sports Denis Hamson Obua has said that the delay in the construction of the Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium was a tactical approach on the the side of government, and that they have no regrets whatsoever.
Obua said that government intended to work in phases so that they can first clear the surroundings of the stadium before it is fully redeveloped.
Obua made these remarks while appearing on NBS TV’s Face Off on Sunday afternoon.
“In making these decisions, government was so tactical. We wanted to move in phases, you start by securing the environment and that is why the perimeter face and lock-up shops were the first,” Obua said.
Obua said that the notion that the private developer, Ham Kiggundu, is more interested in business than sports is wrong because the decision was strategic.
The State Minister for Sports said that when government initiated a contractual obligation with Kiggundu, the aspect of the stadium was not in the main contract. He said that government wanted to first put a perimeter fence around the stadium.
“Redeveloping the stadium and expanding it to 30,000 seater was arrived at in 2016, so it was in the second aspect of the contract,” Obua said.
“Imagine a situation where you had started with the main stadium and then when the stadium is fully complete and operational with international games happening, you’re now having people building a perimeter wall and shops at an operational stadium. We must accept that this tactical approach was right.”
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.
The contract to reconstruct the stadium was first awarded to another firm, Futureland Uganda Limited and Bestin Limited, before it ended up in the arms of businessman, Ham Kiggundu.
In six weeks from now, Uganda is expected to host its first of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and with Nakivubo still out of the picture while Mandela National Stadium remains dilapidated.
Obua said that the country’s hopes now lie with the optimism that World football governing body, Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) may verify St. Mary’s Kitende – a private stadium just in time for the games.
“We are optimistic that just like CAF approved St. Mary’s for the AFCON qualifiers, FIFA will also accept, but if it doesn’t we will have no choice but to host the game in one of our neighbouring countries,” Obua said.