The reconstruction of Nakivubo stadium has reached a critical stage with the completion of the main seating terrace, a milestone that Hamis Kiggundu, the developer, believes will accelerate the remaining works, writes Elly Kyeyune.
For some time, there was doubt whether Nakivubo stadium would be rebuilt again after it was taken down in 2017. This came on the back of wrangling among various stakeholders and matters were not helped by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that slowed down the economy.
To the doubters, it was also unfathomable that a single individual could sink in billions of shillings to construct a modern sports complex.
However, that is all in the past as construction enters the crucial phase after the completion of the 35,000 capacity seating area. During a tour of the facility over the weekend, Ham intimated that the stadium will be ready next year.
“We are on track to not only complete the work in the shortest time possible, but also make a statement about our capacity as Ugandans to do the best,” he said.
“From a realistic and reasonable point of view this is not just a stadium but a legacy and clear illustration to all Ugandans that if Uganda is to develop it’s our responsibility as Ugandans to develop our motherland.”
It is worth noting that whereas the new Nakivubo stadium will predominantly host football matches, it will be a multipurpose sports complex able to host other games such as athletics, hockey, boxing, volleyball and many others.
Indeed, trying to capture every aspect of the new Nakivubo stadium is like a sport in itself. When completed, the stadium will have huge screens, comfortable chairs and floodlights. There will also be access for people with disabilities, among other facilities.
What’s more, it will also have multi-level parking able to accommodate 1,000 cars on top of other wellness centres like restaurants and gyms.
“We are almost done with the hardest bit of the stadium, which is the structure. What is left is to fast-track the completion of the work. I’m going to turn this place into an iconic venue, the best sports and entertainment complex in the region,” said Ham, who is footing all the costs of the $49m (Shs 176.4bn) project.
Reached out for a comment, Hamson Obua, the state minister for Sports, welcomed the new development and advised stakeholders to support Ham.
“I’m pleased with the current acceleration of works and I expect the stadium to be ready soon to boost the sports sector,” he said. “We also need to have a positive attitude to help Ham in this endeavour because he has faced unnecessary criticism for the delay.”
Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium was officially opened on April 1, 1926 and the first match to be played there was between Uganda Kobs (a local club dominated by whites and founded in 1921) and the Uganda national team.
However, years of poor management caused the stadium to dilapidate and in 2017, Kiggundu’s Ham Enterprises was tasked redevelop the stadium into a modern sports complex.