Nakivubo: How did we get here?

Monday September 28 2020

Nakivubo stadium is under redevelopment by businessman Hamis Kiggundu. PHOTO | MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI


The sorry state of stadia all over Uganda is a well-documented story. The consistent absurdity of the infrastructure meant to operate as public social amenities can make for an award-winning movie. But to avoid sounding like a broken record, I will concentrate on the Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium.
What started out as a good deed when President Museveni handed it over to wily businessman Hamis Kiggundu in 2015 for redevelopment into an ultra-modern stadium with increased capacity (from 18,000 to 35,000) is steadily turning out into a dream that this generation may never live to see its true fruition.
With a timeline set for Roko Construction to complete works and hand over the $49m (Shs180b) facility in 2019, we are already a year late without sound explanation and even signs of completion at new set date of August 2021 cannot be believed by the naked eye.
What catches the eye is that the proprietor has completed the retail shops and offices that form the ring of the stadium and is already earning from this devious scheme. Such is the state of affairs at Nakivubo – glittering on the outside and looking as messy as a pig sty inside.
It is no secret that Kiggundu has also been entangled in several court battles; reportedly for controversially forcing the powers that be to give the deal and forthwith mortgaging the stadium to fund his other insatiable business desires. Words from the corridors of power indicate that the current developer is on the brink of winning a 49-year lease for the historical home of sport. Very disturbing, huh! 
Talk of works stalling for months on aren’t new and even when work resumes it lasts just a couple of days. The sanctuary of sports with many lifelong memories, a place where we crawled in using gutters, sneaked in through back doors and sometimes squeezed through metallic rods, leaving us a little smelly, bruised and dirty, to catch the golden generation of yesteryear is on the periphery. 
The many talents across soccer, body building, netball, weightlifting and boxing harnessed here into modern-day legends are silently hurting that their sacred place has been sacrificed at the altar of selfishness.
Demons in the fires of hell await whoever has had a say in these derisory matters with knowledge that their decisions would not benefit sports as anticipated. Lord have mercy!