THE lease of part of Nakivubo Stadium has taken a new twist. Kampala City Council (KCC) claims they were not informed about the project, rendering it illegal. The stadium authorities recently leased two acres to two bus operators to establish a bus park.
The operators work under their umbrella organisation, Allied Bus Owners Association. The area in question is located behind the famous Kirussia stand.
Leaders are the focal point of all developments in the city and for a gazetted area like Nakivubo to be transformed into a bus park without their knowledge is illegal. Besides, according to the local leaders, the stadium is a community recreation facility that should not be tampered with, unless they approve.
â€œI need more information to comment on this issue,â€ the mayor of Kampala, Nasser Sebaggala, says.
Recently, the town clerk, Ruth Kijjambu, ordered a halt on the construction at the stadium. Under local government regulations, it is illegal for one to develop an area without permission from the local leaders.
â€œI was not approached about the development. We did not even have council meetings and minutes on the issue, therefore, I cannot comment on the issue,â€ says Godfrey Nyakana, the chairman of Kampala Central Division.
Nyakana says he learnt of the issue from the media. â€œWhen I sent law enforcement personnel to the stadium, they confirmed that it was true. I have to consult city planners to find out if this is acceptable,â€ he says.
On previous occasions, when community sports facilities in the city were given away, top KCC officials were involved. The facilities include the Lugogo Football Grounds, Centenary Park and Kitante Childrenâ€™s Park.
Only two football pitches at Lugogo, out of the 10 that existed 10 years ago, have remained. Most of them are now occupied by commercial buildings including the Lugogo Mall and Centenary Park.
The leasing of the stadium also comes at a time when football pitches in Kampala are almost extinct.
Kawempe Division had about 10 football pitches a few years ago, but today, there are only three. Nakawa Division had about 15 football pitches 10 years ago, but less than five are left. Kampala Central Division in which Nakivubo Stadium is located, had at least 10 football pitches, but about two are left. That is the trend in the city.
In their defence, the chairman of the board of directors of Nakivubo Stadium, Godfrey Kisekka, says football no longer brings in funds.
â€œWe cannot survive on gate collections. We have to think outside the box and find ways of making more money,â€ Kisekka says. However, he refuses to reveal how much will be earned from the lease or how the community will benefit.
Kisekka is no stranger to local governance issues because he is a former principal town clerk of Kampala and Makindye divisions. He knows how local government procedures are done. Kisekka is also the chairman of KCC Football Club.
State minister for sports Charles Bakabulindi says there is no problem with the stadium being transformed into a â€˜temporaryâ€™ bus park, since there is need for funds to run it.
The stadium spokesman, Fred Kateregga, says the decision was taken after discussing with the stakeholders. He says the stadium had financial constraints because the fan base had reduced.
â€œUMEME recently cut off our power and people laughed at us. We have workers and water bills to pay. Worse still, few people go to the stadium to watch football,â€ he says.
This venture should have been discussed at length with the city leaders before its implementation because it will obviously cause more congestion in the city. The stadium is located in one of the busiest parts of Kampala, with St. Balikudembe Market, the New Taxi Park and the densely-populated Kuisenyi slum.
Even the development was a private venture, the developer should have forwarded their plans to KCC for approval.
Two years ago, KCC decided buses would park outside the city. In fact, buses from western Uganda were forced to stop at Nateete.
However, the plan was dropped due to political pressure. It would, therefore, be inconceivable for KCC to allocate another part of the city to the buses.
â€œIt is absurd that we were not consulted; there is no way we could have allowed such a project to go on,â€ says councillor Salim Uhuru.
â€œYou need 30 minutes to drive a distance of 100 metres from Bakuli to the bus park due to traffic congestion,â€ Uhuru says.
Already, that part of the city has three other bus parks, including the former parking space of Nakivubo Stadium. When this park was set up, it was said to be temporary. However, three years later, it is still operational.
According to Kijjambu, the city must be planned. â€œKCC grants authority after considering the likely impact of a project,â€ she says.
By Monday, February 16, there were indications that sections of city residents were planning to exert pressure on Nakivubo Stadium authorities and the sports minister to avert the decision.
Nakivubo lease: why were the city leaders left out?