Hamson Obua, the State Minister for Sports, has officially handed over Namboole Stadium to the UPDF Engineering Brigade, which will begin renovations.
The upgrades will be done in two phases, the first of which will be the erection of a 4.1-kilometer boundary wall to keep encroachers out, followed by renovations to the playing field, flood lights, running track, and media center, among other stadium facilities.
The first phase of the boundary wall building, according to Minister Obua, is the beginning of the trip to secure the facility’s territory from encroachers.
“This is the trip to ensuring that this site is preserved for the future development of sports-related activities.”
Locals, on the other hand, were asked to assist the construction efforts.
“I’m pleading with the local community to cooperate to the fullest extent possible.” The UPDF is a pro-people army that will cooperate with corporations. We must deliver in this age because history will condemn us.”
The Mandela national stadium has a “highly ambitious” strategic plan that runs until 2025, according to Anne Abeja, a board member, but it can’t be implemented properly due to a number of obstacles.
“We couldn’t do it because of obstacles like encroachment,” Abeja added, “but what we’re doing today for the next four months to build a wall will address these issues.”
Whereas the first phase of constructing the perimeter wall will cost shs3.8billion and is to be completed in four months, the entire renovation works are set to last nine months at a cost of shs97 billion.
Kira Municipality Member of Parliament, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda in whose constituency the stadium sits urged the UPDF Engineering brigade to put to good use the resources allocated to them for the project.
Officially opened in 1997, the 35000 capacity Mandela National Stadium also known as Namboole is home to the country’s national football team, the Cranes.
Since construction by Chinese over 20 years ago, the stadium has not seen any major renovations around it which is a cause for alarm.
“The stadium has got outdated infrastructure – the bowl, halogen floodlights that consume a lot of power, electrical installations that are not readily available on the market, sanitary facilities need repair or change of plumbing installations,” Mandela National Stadium Managing Director Jamil Ssewanyana told Daily Monitor in 2020.
“Then the lack of a CCTV system and real time access controls (turnstiles) to monitor the stadium users on entering the stadium, during and after events.”
In 2020, CAF released a report in which it deemed the stadium unfit to host any international matches including Cranes qualifiers.
The facility had failed to meet both the continental body and world football governing body-FIFA standards, prompting the ban.
CAF highlighted the playing surface, size of the pitch, dressing rooms, floodlights, pavilion, technical bench, media centre and parking among others that are in a dire state.
Following the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, the stadium was turned into a treatment centre .
Consequently, Namboole has not hosted any international game for the last four years, with educationist Lawrence Mulindwa’s St.Mary’s stadium in Kitende being used to host the games.