Lira- Some local government leaders in Lira District have called for a forensic audit into the construction of Akii-Bua Memorial Stadium.
Preliminary work started in February 2016 after President Museveni in 2009 pledged to construct an international sporting facility in Lira District. This is in memory of the country’s first Olympic gold medalist, John Akii-Bua.
The government then released more than Shs600m in instalments as part of the Shs1 billion needed for carrying out needs assessment, fencing off of the project land, opening access roads, levelling and planting grass on land measuring about 18.6 acres.
But the Lira Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Robert Abak, told Daily Monitor in a recent interview that his office has already launched investigations into how the money has so far been utilised.
No value for money?
Just like other critics, the RDC said there is no value for money in respect to the work done at the site so far.
“There have been concerns because when you go on the ground, you don’t see the value for money. So, as we talk now, we are also investigating but the answer they [contractors] are giving us is that the money did not come at once but in instalments,” Mr Abak said.
On behalf of the ministry of Education (the implementing body), Lira District sourced Upland Enterprises and Construction Ltd to do the work.
So far, a pit latrine and a pavilion have been constructed for interim use.
The two facilities built are temporary structures without an approved design.
The Lira Chief Administrative Officer, Mr Mark Tivu, acknowledged he received a complaint from the stadium project management committee claiming there is no value for money on what has so far been done.
“We have been doing the preliminary work on behalf of the ministry [of Education] and the design is not yet out. This is a mega project that we still do not know how long it will take to construct but it will depend on the mobilisation of resources by the ministry,” Mr Tivu said.
However, Mr Hudson Omoko, the Lira District engineer, estimates the stadium will cost about Shs400 billion.
Lira District chairman Alex Oremo ruled out any corruption in the project being implemented by his administration and supervised by the ministry of Education.
“When I came to office in 2011, arrangements were already in place to start the work. We handed over the land; we gave the land title and processed everything for the construction to be done,” he said.
“When construction was sought, the ministry of Education said we are going to do delegated work on behalf of the ministry. So, Lira District local government was supported to start the preliminary work. This preliminary work included landscape preparation, drainage system, road networking and tree removal.”
The government released Shs400 million in the first batch. Mr Oremo said they used the money according to the project design. Shs165m was released in the second batch.
“But the total amount injected in this land preparation is Shs665m for the three financial years, including the current one. So we had only that money and what we have done is land preparation,” he said.
The Commissioner for Physical Education, Mr Lameck Omara Apita, recently told Daily Monitor that he didn’t know when the actual construction of the stadium would start because the ministry of Education was still sourcing for funding.
John Akii-Bua was a Ugandan athlete and the first Olympic champion from the country in the 1972 - 400m hurdles. As a police officer, Akii-Bua was promoted by Ugandan president Idi Amin, and given a house, as a reward for his athletic exploits. Akii-Bua died on June 20, 1997 and was given a state funeral.
To honour him, a stadium in his memory was built on Lira Hospital land and authorities recommended that it is relocated to create room for expansion of the health centre.
The new stadium will now be constructed in Erute, following Lira District Local Government’s acquisition of the title for the land measuring about 18.6 acres.
When reconstruction is complete, the stadium will have capacity to accommodate more than 50,000 spectators, according to the district sports officer Leo Alani.
The stadium will also have an indoor stadium, training ground, aquatic centre and a modern hotel.