By Bruno Kiyimba

Construction of the Akii Bua Stadium facility Lira Municipality has not yet commenced, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) has said.

Rather, the  play field and its temporary pavilion being constructed by Lira District Local Government (LDLG) is for ‘temporary’ use for sports activities ‘by the youth in the Lira area’.

The announcement, circulated in a memo signed by the MoES Undersecretary, Aggrey David Kibenge on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, adds that government is committed to constructing the Akii-Bua Stadium in Lira District and that the necessary inter-stakeholder activities, consultations and processes are on-going in this regard.

Mr Kibenge’s memo, follows news of the arrest of Apitta Omara, the commissioner for Physical Education and Sports in MoES by Parliament CID Police for mismanaging Shs665m meant to build the stadium. He was arrested on the orders of the Parliamentary Committee on Commission, Statutory Authorities (Cosase) on Tuesday.

Apiita told Cosase that the money was used to build a pavilion, which members maintained was just but a shed.

He was bailed out of Luzira Prisons by Sports Ministry Junior Minister Charles Bakabulindi.

“MoES has noted social media reports erroneously indicating that Government has already constructed the Akii Bua Olympic Stadium, and showing a temporary pavilion of a temporary playfield built by LDLG in Lira as the Akii Bua stadium built by Government,” Mr Kibenge wrote before giving a background about the facility.

With the Shs665million earmarked for the construction of the facility, Lira local Government carried out Surveys, boundary opening, location, bush clearing, shaping, leveling and gravelling works.

Part of the money was also used in opening of site access roads, opening of drainage channels and Installation of culverts, the memo states.

The money allegedly misused by Opita was also used to widen a swamp channel from Okello degree road to Moroto road as well as supply and install 600mm diameter concrete culverts and construction of headwalls, a pit latrine and 150 Seater capacity pavilion.

However, critics say the memo could have been signed out of pressure since the facility was a presidential pledge in memory of Uganda’s first gold medalist, John Akii-Bua.

“MoES is awaiting from LDLG a comprehensive audited physical and financial performance report on preliminary project activities undertaken against the disbursed funds,” Kibenge writes.

About Shs1.2 billion was put aside for the construction of the stadium in the 2015/16 financial year Budget.

“MoES has completed the procurement process for a consultancy to undertake designs and construction supervision of the ABOS Project. The Consultancy contract signing is however pending availing of the necessary budget requirement, which the MoES does not have yet, by the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED). MoES is in this regard still pursuing the matter with MoFPED,” he added.

The Akii-Bua Stadium construction is expected to be donor financed. Government, through Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MoLHUD, MoES and other ministries, is discussing at high Ministerial level the construction financing modality.