and Silvano Kibuuka
ANOTHER portion of Nakivubo Stadium land has been turned into a bus terminal. The two-acre piece, located behind the stadiumâ€™s open stand, Kirussia, has been rented out to Allied Owners Bus Association.
Tractors and graders roared into action yesterday as the construction kicked off. This becomes the second portion on the stadiumâ€™s 13 acres to be rented to bus operators.
Fears that the downtown sports facility could be lost have gained strength. Already, its parking yard has been rented to Kalita Bus Company, while another chunk is rented out to market vendors.
Another piece behind the Soweto open wing, which has a netball court, is now a pay parking yard.
The stadium, Ugandaâ€™s second largest, with a sitting capacity of 18,000 people, was constructed by the colonial administration in 1921 as a native recreation ground.
A law, the Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium Trust Act, was passed in 1953 to provide for the running of the stadium. It provided for a trust to manage the facility. The sports minister appoints the trustees.
The second and biggest stadium in Kampala, Nelson Mandela National Stadium, Namboole seats 42,000 people. The only other stadium within the city is the un-developed Wankulukuku, the property of Buganda Kingdom.
Education and sports state minister Charles Bakkabulindi said the stadium was in bad shape and needed to be be modernised.
He said the the planned bus park and markets were temporary. He said a white paper, in Parliament, would allow new developments that would include facilities for more sports like swimming.
He was speaking in response to a complaint on the sale of stadia. Local sports leaders asked Bakkabulindi how sports would be developed at the grassroots when sports grounds were being sold off.
Liraâ€™s Akii-Bua stadium is one of several sports facilities that have either been taken over by government projects or sold to private developers.
Explaining the development, chairman Godfrey Kisekka said the board was forced to find alternative sources of revenue after football attendance dwindled.
â€œSoccer is no longer profitable,â€ he said. â€œThere have been cases where matches have been attended by just 10 people. So, what do you do when you have bills to settle?â€
It is probably the reason why the management has in recent years preferred to hire out the stadium for music and religious festivals.
A permanent stage, which partially blocks the stadiumâ€™s Makerere wing view of the football pitch, was built for Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffiâ€™s prayers last year.
â€œThis was a big gift,â€ asserted stadium manager Eugene Ssemuju, who no longer has to construct a platform whenever the stadium is hired out.
The management first allowed Kalita Bus Company to use the parking as a terminal after Kampala City Council leased out Baganda Bus Park to developers who turned the place into a shopping complex.
Bus operators subsequently acquired another piece of land in Kisenyi just adjacent to the stadium.
The scramble for land for investment in the city has also led to a clash between local government minister Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, the education ministry and the Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association over the Old Taxi Park.
Otafiire and KCC want the park relocated to the Nakivubo Settlement Primary School near the Nakivubo stadium, which the education ministry rejects.
Nakivubo stadium becomes bus park