Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, is to undergo a major rehabilitation to ensure that it meets the required standards for both national and international sporting activities.
Constructed in 1997, the national sports pride is currently appalling and has since failed the worthwhile tests of the Confederation of African Football-CAF and International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). This implies that Uganda has no facility for hosting both continental and international matches.
According to Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Sports, the government is looking for funds for the planned works which will also seek to transform the now dilapidated facility into a centre of excellence for sports training and competitions.
The rehabilitation works are to be carried out in a phased manner beginning with renovations on the field, the track, dressing rooms, floodlights, pavilion, technical bench, the media centre, and parking space, among others. According to Kakooza, the Ministry is envisioning long term developments which will see them construct modern indoor sports facilities, hostel and fields among others.
The development comes after Mandela National Stadium Ltd., a body corporate wholly owned by the government under the Ministry of Education and Sports, together with their finance counterparts acquired the certificates of title for the sports facility bringing their 12-year quest to an end. The certificates of title cover 50.2 hectares situated on block 234 plots 1,334, 6,086, and 6,087 Kyadondo.
The stadium’s managing director, Jamil Ssewanyana observes that works on the stadium are long overdue. However, he adds, the management had failed to carry out major projects because their funding opportunities were also affected by the contention on the ownership of the land on which the stadium sits.
His argument has also been reflected in several Auditor General’s reports, who highlighted that absence of land titles had stifled several plans to carry out major renovation and construction at Namboole. The first renovation and further construction were planned 23 years ago, upon the completion of the first phase of the facility. However, most of the proposed projects stalled due to lack of funds, leaving the earmarked land idle.
Although the land was free of encumbrances, it started attracting encroachers due to its strategic location. Over 200 people have since encroached on it, all claiming ownership. The listed encroachers include UPDF veterans, makeshift structures, washing bays, bricklayers, and car garages. Several private developers have also gone ahead to set up commercial buildings, hotels, and churches on the same land.
Kakooza shares that the acquisition of titles marked the beginning of the long journey to secure the facility and its land from encroachers. He says that the management is now faced with the burden of reopening the land boundaries and evicting encroachers.