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UPDF doing a great job at Namboole in spite of scapegoating

Renovated Namboole stadium

Renovated Namboole stadium

Last week, it emerged that continental football body (Caf) had declared Namboole stadium unsuitable to host international matches on grounds that it does not meet the requisite standards.

The report by Caf inspectors who visited the stadium in February was read on the floor of parliament by Opposition Chief Whip John Baptist Nambeshe. The gist of the report is that “several areas of the exterior and interior zones of the stadium are still in progress, and not yet complete.”

Caf’s decision means that Uganda will have to look elsewhere to host its key World Cup qualifiers against Botswana and Algeria in June.
Surprisingly, several media entities have made a travesty of the situation to publish stories of how the contractor, the UPDF Engineering Brigade, has done substandard and shoddy work to renovate the stadium.

Unsurprisingly, Fufa is yet to come out with an official statement regarding Caf’s report; but instead, the federation claims it has nothing to do with the ongoing Namboole renovations because they are merely ‘clients.’

Like I always say, the devil is in the detail, and Caf’s ruling seems to be mired in a concerted effort to scapegoat the UPDF Engineering Brigade. In fact, it raises several procedural and technical questions. For instance, Caf does all its official communication through Fufa, not government.

How could Nambeshe read out the report before Fufa communicates to the public?

Even when every detail is available, why are some media entities blaming the UPDF for shoddy work yet Caf’s refusal to grant Namboole hosting rights is simply based on ‘work in progress?’  

There is even talk that Caf based its decision on the allocation of a parking space to defunct buses. This is an issue to do with Namboole stadium management and does not tie in the contractor and was never part of the terms of reference when UPDF commenced to work.

To me, the whole situation bears the hallmarks of a choreographed syndicate to malign the UPDF Engineering Brigade. And this pattern has been clear for more than a year when Fufa president declared that the UPDF Engineering Brigade is doing shoddy work.

There is nowhere it is mentioned that the works at Namboole are substandard yet it is also an open secret that works have been delayed by government’s delay to expedite full funding to complete the work.

So, it would be foolhardy for anyone to blame the UPDF for delayed works when it is not out of their own making. I would have been very worried if Caf inspectors had raised issues to do with standards in civil and structural engineering but none is mentioned.

I have worked on several projects with the UPDF Engineering Brigade and I can assure the public that they are one of the best and most disciplined in the region. Back in February, 2022 when they started the renovation of Namboole, they secured and fenced off the land that had been grabbed by encroachers, something government had failed to do for years.

What’s more, the UPDF presented the renovation masterplan that clearly indicated that they are renovating Namboole as a sports complex, not as a football stadium as some people think. For starters, a completed Namboole will have other disciplines like athletics, rugby, basketball, boxing and volleyball, among others, including amenities such as a hotel, gym and restaurants.

Prioritizing football wouldn’t have made sense, especially from a procurement point of view. You cannot procure plastic seats for the main stadium and leave out the rubberized, artificial running surface for athletics or the adjacent training venue.

It is clear in UPDF’s schedule of works that the renovation is being done as a whole and, therefore, cannot leave any discipline behind as some people had wished. UPDF couldn’t concentrate on football alone.

Therefore, with 90 per cent of Namboole completed, the issue about Namboole’s failure to meet Caf standards has nothing to do with the quality of the work; it is just a matter of delay, whose reasoning is not disputed by anyone.

Lest I forget, one school of thought I landed on suggests that woes about Namboole stadium are machinations engineered by Fufa to have Cranes games played abroad. This is premised on the back of Uganda’s recent struggles with results, a dilemma that has placed Fufa in bad light.

So, with the country virtually out of contention for the 2026 World Cup, it doesn’t make sense for Fufa to host games at Namboole when there is a risk that fans might turn violent and demand for change in leadership.

The author is SC Villa president emeritus

Comments

+1 #1 Marz Mubiru 2024-04-18 02:49
Speak for yourself. We shall see the results.
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0 #2 jjose 2024-04-23 13:40
There is no work,
But Misagga when will stop misleADI9NG PEOPLE.
you remember when you misled people at viila sc that the club has got gardens in iganga, and now we had income apart from the gate collection.

Now whats there at namboole, maybe you want favours from the wife of FUFA president
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