Like in many other countries, Uganda is madly in love with football and follow it religiously. Many love to go to stadiums to watch their favorite players in action. And for Uganda, you can’t talk about watching local football and you don’t mention Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium. The iconic stadium is in the thick of Ugandan football.
The Stadium has witnessed memories and records broken, talent born, celebrations, anguish and all there is to live for the beautiful game.
However, there came a time when ‘age’ caught up with the stadium and it needed a major overhaul to meet the required international safety standards. The Nakivubo Stadium Board of Trustees sought a developer to undertake this big task and it hired the services of Ham Enterprises in 2015.
In 2017, Ham Enterprises, under the stewardship of its director Hamis Kiggundu, commenced the redevelopment of the stadium. The redevelopment involved improvement to the playing surface (pitch), increasing seating capacity, improve the sitting arrangement and standards and the construction of retail shops outside the walls of the facility.
Ever since Ham Enterprises secured the tender, the enterprise has been working tirelessly to restore the stadium’s glory days through fundamental replenishment.
The construction work headed by Roko will put in place a state of the Art stadium on the acreage of about 13 acres with a seating capacity of 35000 modern athletic tracks, Netball, basket ball, Volley ball and other indoor games.
The stadium will also have offices for rent, Hotels, Conference facilities, Boardroom, Sport Souvenir Shops, Shopping Malls, Multi-level parking of about 10,000 cars among others.
Mr. Agaba Aine the Stadium’s construction manager confirmed to this website that the little delays were due to bouts of litigation and foundation that had to be raised from a wetland in last year’s rainy season.
He also added there was a little setback on construction speed due to covid-19 pandemic which has affected the country’s economy but they overcame all and are endlessly making it done as expected.
“We have resumed serious work on the stadium Construction and with more determination, We have over 1000 workers on the site and this is going to be the best stadium in East Africa with a capacity of 35000,” he explained.
He further gave Ugandans hope that by mid 2021, Ugandans especially sports lovers will be treated to a new magnificent football pitch, built with an international touch to accommodate various sports activities.
Tycoon Hamis Kigundu explained to this website that the construction budget has increased partly due to their pursuit to end more flooding at the stadium which was a major case before renovation.
“Its an expensive venture because its built on a wetland, we have had to strengthen the foundation and drain the area to divert the water from Nakivubo Channel,” he added.
When completed, Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium (NWMS) stands to give a new face-lift to the country’s sports sector by providing an answer to the continuous demand for better
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 and yes we can.
The First Lady Janet Museveni and minister of education and sports last year toured the site and were impressed with the redevelopment works that are being done at the stadium.
“It was great that the first lady came to witness the work that is being carried out at Nakivubo Stadium. I assure fellow Ugandans that we are working hard to make sure that the stadium is well completed.” Hamis Kiggundu told the media shortly after the tour by the minister.
The President who has renewed his support for sports activities and persons in the country also said his government is going to construct various regional stadiums in the country. “We are going to start building Akii Bua Stadium and another in Kabarole. In the long run, all the traditional 18 sub-regions of Uganda will get a stadium each,” he said.
Nakivubo Stadium was developed in 1926 on land donated by the Kabaka of Buganda at the time. It hosted its first match on 1 April 1926 between the Uganda National Team and the Under-18 National team of Uganda. It owned by the Government of Uganda and is operated by the Board of Trustees known as the “Registered Trustees of Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium”, appointed by the Minister of Sports.
The stadium was improved and modernized in 1954 by the British colonial government to commemorate the lives of Ugandans killed during the Second World War following the passage of the “Nakivubo War Memorial Act” by the Parliament of Uganda.
In 2000, the stadium hosted a match of the Uganda national football team with all players wearing a FC Internazionale Milano jersey. They were fined for that.
In early 2013, the stadium was closed by the Uganda Revenue Authority for a period of about one month, over “accumulated debts.” It was re-opened after payment arrangements had been agreed upon.
The stadium was also shut down in May 2011, but re-opened after only a week after payment plans were negotiated.
The stadium was reopened and hosted the third round, second leg of the CAF U-17 Championship, a game between Uganda and Zambia, on 27 September 2014.
In 2017, major renovations began at the stadium, involving improvement to the grounds, increasing seating from 30,000 to 35,000 and the construction of retail shops inside the outside walls of the facility. The renovations are a joint venture between he government of Uganda and Ham Enterprises.
ROKO Construction are carrying out the work, began in June 2017 and ongoing, at an estimated cost of US$49 million.