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June 13, 2024
Kampala Daily

Pioneer buses removed from Namboole ahead of World Cup Qualifiers

All Pioneer buses that had occupied part of the Mandela National Stadium grounds in Namboole have been removed in preparation for the 2026 World Cup qualifying games.

Uganda Cranes was recently cleared to use the stadium to host their qualifying matches against Botswana and Algeria next month, and efforts are underway to ensure the stadium is fully prepared for the international games.

During a recent tour of the facility, the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, instructed the State Minister of Sports, Peter Ogwang, to work with the Mandela National Stadium management to remove the Pioneer buses that were occupying the stadium premises.

Her directive followed an explanation that the UPDF Engineering Brigade, the project contractor, faced difficulties securing parking for the stadium due to the presence of the buses. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) in its April inspection report had raised concerns about the insufficient parking at Namboole.

On a Wednesday when URN reporter visited the stadium, all Pioneer buses had been cleared, significantly increasing the available parking space.

Speaking to URN, Col. Peter Kidemuka, the Project Engineer, stated that parking for at least 900 vehicles had been secured. Kidemuka further informed that the UPDF had recovered more than 120 of the 128 acres of Namboole land that had been encroached on.

In its April report, CAF also raised the need to relocate the media tribunal, address the unfinished ceiling, upgrade floodlights, improve the VVIP section, and reduce seating capacity from 40,818 to 38,000 due to visibility issues caused by structural posts.

Col. Kidemuka also said that the floodlights, a key concern, have been ordered and are expected to arrive shortly.

CAF asked FUFA to organize two test matches at the stadium to test its readiness and see whether it could be ready by June when the games will take place.

FUFA subsequently selected two Uganda Premier League matches. The test games which FUFA boss Magogo described as a success, convinced CAF to clear Namboole to host the June Cranes Games.

Col. Kidemuka said that even when the stadium was cleared, they continued working and since the test games were held, several other improvements have been made, particularly in the VVIP section. These include the installation of bulletproof mirrors and a new LED scoreboard which was one of the key issues highlighted in the CAF report that had declared Namboole unfit to host the June games.

Kidemuka explained that all the current improvements leave the first phase of renovation at 95 percent complete, and the remaining percentage is only left for the installation of floodlights. He said that they ordered 212 floodlights, an increase of 48 from the ones that existed before.

On the playing pitch, Kidemuka explained that the imported grass requires routine use to become thick and acclimatize. He recommended that at least two games per week be played on the pitch to maintain its quality.

Regarding the running track, Kidemuka said that they are awaiting a report from a world athletics expert on the condition of the track before installing a tartan surface inside the stadium and at the outside training facility.

Kidemuka further noted that upon completing the first phase, the contractor will begin the second phase, which includes constructing a new swimming pool and a basketball court, provided that funding is available.

This will be the first time Uganda Cranes hosts its games at Namboole Stadium since November 2019 when the facility was blacklisted by the continental soccer governing body, claiming that it was substandard.

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