Ndejje in race against time to host East African games

Workers patching up the main pitch at Ndejje University. PHOTO/ GEORGE KATONGOLE 

What you need to know:

In July, the university embarked on the process to uplift their standards to international standards when Chinese contractors Complaint, were announced the main contractors in conjunction with Thailand-based Yang Ma Sports Tech, a sports consultancy firm.

Chosen to host the Eastern Africa University Games 2022, organised in December of every even year, Ndejje faces a race against time to get ready for the event in two months, but officials say they will meet the challenge. The biannual event is scheduled to run from December 16 to 22, 2022.

Ndejje University Vice Chancellor Prof Eriabu Lugujjo said on Tuesday that there have been delays due to financial shortfalls.

While hosting a delegation of parliamentarians led by the state minister for Luweero and Rwenzori Region Alice Kaboyo, Lugujjo has given assurance that they will nevertheless be ready to host the multi-sport sport event.

“We are in a race against time. We have so far achieved 30 per cent of the expected work with the internal resources. Even in December, the work may not be 100 per cent. It should be completed by April next year,” Lugujjo said.

Lugujjo stressed the need for urgent government intervention.

In July, the university embarked on the process to uplift their standards to international standards when Chinese contractors Complaint, were announced the main contractors in conjunction with Thailand-based Yang Ma Sports Tech, a sports consultancy firm.

According to the university estates manager Eng Patrick Ssekigongo, they expected major upgrades on the swimming pool and the competitions village.

The swimming pool, which measures 12.5x25m was expected to be upgraded to Olympic standards (50x25m).

The competition village, comprising two fields, was supposed to be upgraded to international standards. The main football pitch, expected a new cover of tartan instead of the murram, a jogging track for warm-up and clearing of the slopes within the pitch. The old pitch near the basketball courts was expected to be upgraded to a multi-purpose ground for throws, rugby and other field games.

All this was supposed to be accomplished with funding from the government worth $8.5m. The government has already released $1m.

“Time was running on us and we opted for plan B. We halted the contract [with Complant] until we have the resources. Our failure to achieve Plan A forced us to plan B to be able to host the games in December. We are slightly above 50 per cent of our plan B. The rest will still continue until next year when we can complete our facilities. Even if we obtain the funds now, we cannot be able to complete plan A,” Prof Lugujjo said.

The main focus is now to make the facilities usable. The sports arena was opened by President Museveni on December 17, 2017.


Hopeful

To Kaboyo, who was impressed by Ndejje's sports facilities, having the games is a priority.

She was taken on a tour around the university and was content with the athletes’ village that will accommodate more than 4,000 students.

Ndejje has up to eight hostels expected to house all competitors in Luweero.

"This is an opportunity for the government to deliver something that people care about," she stressed while asking Adjumani Woman MP Jesca Ababiku, also Chairperson Presidential Affairs Committee and her fellow parliamentarians, to give her a backing in a bid to secure the funds.

Even with plan B, Kaboyo stressed that work must be decent.

Ndejje's sporting glory, highlighted by six East African championships, is something the university authorities have been eager to use to their advantage.

Ndejje University Finance Manager Paul Mark Kayongo said the university is keen on continuing to promote sports in the region.

Kayongo, who founded the woodball sport in Uganda, said they will keep innovating solutions and remain a powerhouse.


UTILITY

4,000 participants are expected to compete in 20 disciplines for five days. Uganda is expected to be represented by 25 universities, 17 from Kenya and 12 from Tanzania. DR Congo has confirmed three universities while Burundi, Rwanda and Ethiopia have each confirmed one university.

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