KAMPALA – The renovation of Mandela National Stadium-Namboole is set to be complete in June 2023, the contractor has promised.
Renovations kicked off in January 2022, nearly two years after the Confederation of African Football – Caf and the Federation of International Football Association – Fifa blacklisted the facility as substandard – and therefore unfit to host matches under their respective organisation.
Fifa recommended new seats in the general public stands; a new green playing surface; decent changing rooms for both players and officials; uplifting the toilets to fit within the required minimal standards; a new running track – tartan; installation of desks and air conditioners in the media and VIP sections; a modern LED scoreboard and upgrading of floodlights as basics for the ban on the facility to be relaxed.
The renovation, which is being undertaken by the UPDF Engineering Brigade started with the construction of the 4.2km perimeter wall surrounding every corner of the stadium.
Lt Col Peter Kidemuka – the project Engineer confirmed that the wall whose construction was estimated to cost Ugx3.8b had been completed – awaiting a handed over before embarking on the second phase.
Phase two of the renovations will include working on the plumbing equipment, repairing the pitch, pavilion, and dressing rooms, installation of desks and air conditioners in the media and VIP sections, seats in the general public stands, and upgrading floodlights in compliance with the Caf directive – a task, which the engineers believe will be complete by June 2023.
A quick look at the site creates memories the stadium’s 1999 structure – an atmosphere – far better than that of yesteryears – a new white gate erected at the newly built fence with marching a coat of paint. The entire playing surface has also been dismantled with no visible grass at all but the worn-out tartan still exists.
Col Deo Akiiki, the Deputy Army Spokesperson said that the playing surface will be upgraded to international standards.
Rev Canon Duncan Mugumya, the Commissioner for Physical Education and Sports in the Ministry of Education and Sports echoed that the playing surface will be flood resistant. He added that the Ministry has committed to importing grass if necessary because the government has provided sufficient funds for renovation.
Rev Mugumya also said that the Ministry will import seats that are weather resistant for both the ordinary and VIP sections.
Namboole’s current seating capacity is 45,202, although the installation of seats threatens to reduce the volume. But Mugumya said the contractor will try to maintain the capacity.
“Increasing its capacity…. I don’t think so, but the normal capacity will be kept as the abnormal capacity would be eliminated, you know when there are no seats, three people can stand where one seat can be, but now with seats, if the seats are 20, when you get 20, you say we are full,” said Mugumya.
Namboole was the home ground for the national team, The Uganda Cranes since 2002.
Currently, Uganda relies on St. Mary’s Stadium – Kitende, a privately-owned facility to host international games – which facility also lacks floodlights – one of the key requirements for a stadium to host a Fifa sanctioned matches.