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Chaos in Gabon as Nations Cup kicks off

By James Bakama

Added 16th January 2017 08:04 PM

Gabon and Equatorial Guinea four years ago co-hosted an impressive tournament.

Chaos in Gabon as Nations Cup kicks off

Ugandans spent the night at the airport as all hotels had been booked. PHOTOS: Mpalanyi Ssentongo

Gabon and Equatorial Guinea four years ago co-hosted an impressive tournament.

Are hosts Gabon really up to the Africa Cup of Nations task?

That is the question many are asking after a chaotic start to the 13th edition of Africa's biggest competition.

True, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea four years ago co-hosted an impressive tournament.

Gabon also can't be faulted when it gets to soccer facilities. This oil rich state of just 1.5million people actually has some of the most classy soccer facilities.

But going by the chaos that characterized the first three days of this year's event, there are all indications that Gabon wasn't set this time.

Loads of incoming luggage were either lost or misplaced as immigrations staff was overwhelmed by the huge numbers of soccer fans flooding the Gabon.

Bakka's luggage misplaced

Uganda tasted its own bit of the bitter pill. First Sports State Minister Charles Bakkabulindi had his luggage misplaced on Friday.

Then two days later Uganda's contingent of over 50 people found itself stranded at Libreville's Leon Mba International airport.


After over two hours of getting paperwork right, the group that included Kachumbala County Member of Parliament Patrick Isiagi, FUFA president Moses Magogo labored to get hotels.

A few lucky ones like Isiagi, Stanbic Managing Director Patrick Mweheire and Kampala Casino's Bob Kabonero managed to get where to stay as the rest of the group slept on concrete airport seats.

"All hotels are full. We even tried to even go down town with little success," explained an exhausted Magogo.

Availability of enough hotels is supposed to be one of requirements fulfilled before a bidding country is given hosting rights.

To the contrary, there is not only a serious shortage hotels in Gabon but even the available ones go for a minimum of $150 a night.

No transport

Efforts to overcome this problem with a late booking for a night flight from Libreville to Uganda Cranes' base in Port Gentil also didn't pay off.

All the night flights on the 40 minute journey to the coastal oil city were full. Matters were also not helped by the fact that Port Gentil can only accessed by air and water.

The mere thought of travelling for three hours on water at night in the rough Atlantic waters also had many Ugandans scared cold.

Uncle Money needed here

Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Togo have left nothing to chance in their teams' quest for glory.

These nations transported huge numbers of fans to the tournament. Smartly clad in matching traditional attire these fans yell their voices hoarse throughout games.

Togo topped this list with six buses specifically brought to Gabon  to support their teams.

These influx of fans have left many wondering why Uganda's lead fan is not in Gabon.

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