The Ministry of Health has used up to 720 million Shillings to rehabilitate structures at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, before it could be used as a treatment centre for COVID-19 patients.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine says that the arena was in a sorry state by the time it was taken up by the Ministry. She says that they fixed all the plumbing and sewerage works, leakages, floors and walls of the arena to give it a fresh and conducive look for the treatment of patients, and to settle utility bills.
Atwine was appearing before the budget committee of Parliament on Wednesday, alongside officials from the Ministry of Education and Mandela National stadium to defend their request for a supplementary allocation. The Stadium leadership headed by Jamil Ssewanyana is seeking for a supplementary of 1.451 billion Shillings for outstanding administrative costs under the Mandela National Stadium.
The committee, however, learnt that there was no Memorandum of any kind entered between the stadium management and the health ministry before the facility was taken up. Atwine told the committee that while they were putting up a Memorandum of Understanding, the process stalled up to date.
Ssewanyana told the committee that since they have not been hosting events and games from the time the place was designated a treatment centre, they have not been able to generate revenue and have failed to pay their staff and board members, among others.
Atwine says that they requested the Ministry of Finance for funds over the management of Namboole and its staff but they have been referred to the Ministry of Education, and, to date, nothing has been resolved.
However, Patrick Isiagi, the Vice-Chairperson of the committee rejected the move saying that the stadium should not be requesting for money after failing to manage the arena even before the place was turned into a treatment facility. According to Isiagi, the stadium management has misused the stadium by hosting more non-sporting events and turning the stadium into a dumping ground.
In an interview with Uganda Radio Network (URN), the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education Alex Kakooza said that they will ensure that they reconcile the matter before they return to the committee, adding that they hope that an MoU can still be formalised.
He told the committee that they do need at least 2 billion Shillings in the short term according to their plans to rehabilitate the stadium to start hosting regional events.