Namboole renovation hindered by government's bus relocation delay

Namboole renovation hindered by government's bus relocation delay
Pioneer busses at Namboole.

Minister of State for Education & Sports Peter Ogwang has informed Parliament that CAF has declined to approve renovation works at Mandela National Stadium due to the government's failure to relocate Pioneer Buses from Namboole's parking lot.

Despite the expiration of their 5-year lease, the presence of these buses has hindered the UPDF's efforts to carry out necessary markings on the parking premises as required by CAF.

Ogwang stated that one of the concerns raised in the CAF report was the lack of signage indicating parking within the stadium. He emphasized the need to demarcate parking spaces for fans.

"I have instructed the contractor to assist me in the official removal of the buses from the stadium premises because I require an unhindered stadium. The Uganda Land Commission leased out the parking space at Namboole Stadium. We are committed to fulfilling CAF's requirement of removing these buses before approving the final game to be played at Namboole," said Ogwang.

Speaker Anita Among recently tasked Ogwang with providing accountability for the Shs97 billion allocated for the renovation of Mandela National Stadium. This directive followed the latest inspection report by CAF, which indicated that the ongoing works by the UPDF Engineering brigade do not meet the required standards.

"The Minister needs to update us on the progress of Namboole and provide accountability for the allocated funds. This is a critical issue; while Ugandans are eager for AFCON, we cannot afford to host matches in another country," said Among.

The Speaker's directive stemmed from concerns raised by John Nambeshe, Opposition Chief Whip, who expressed disappointment over Minister Ogwang's failure to fulfill promises regarding stadium construction works.

"The inspection report has found the stadium works to be non-compliant and not approved. The Minister assured us that the works would be ready by the time of inspection, but he has disappointed us," stated Nambeshe.

Silas Aogon, Member of Parliament for Kumi Municipality, called for the resignation of those responsible for the substandard works at Mandela National Stadium.

Jonathan Odur, Member of Parliament for Erute South, warned that failure to address the issues raised in CAF's inspection report would jeopardize Uganda's chances of hosting other tournaments like CHAN and AFCON.

Denis Obua, Government Chief Whip, informed Parliament about an ongoing meeting led by Minister Ogwang and invited MPs to inspect the works at Namboole to understand the progress made.

However, Ibrahim Ssemujju, Member of Parliament for Kira Municipality, questioned whether the Minister's invitation for MPs to visit Namboole aimed to supersede the opinions of CAF experts.

Officially inaugurated in 1997, the 35,000-capacity Mandela National Stadium, also known as Namboole, serves as the home ground for Uganda's national football team, the Cranes.

Despite being constructed over 20 years ago by Chinese contractors, the stadium has not undergone major renovations, raising concerns.

In 2020, CAF released a report deeming the stadium unfit to host international matches, including Cranes qualifiers.

The facility failed to meet standards set by both CAF and FIFA, resulting in a ban.

CAF highlighted various issues such as the playing surface, pitch size, dressing rooms, floodlights, pavilion, technical bench, media center, and parking, all of which require urgent attention.

Consequently, Uganda has been unable to host the African Nations Cup and World Cup qualifying games at home, opting for stadiums in other countries.

Uganda's previous Afcon qualifying game was hosted in Cameroon, where they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Algeria.

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