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MPs Question Ministers on Akii-Bua and Buhinga Stadia Status

Lugoloobi said that all these projects that were dropped would be prioritized in the next cycle of programming for the period 2021- 2023.
Amos Lugoloobi, the Minister of State for Planning and Denis Hamson Obua, the Minister of State for Sports and other officials appearing before the Education Committee.

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Parliament’s Education Committee on Tuesday tasked the Ministers of Finance and that of Education and Sports to explain the delayed financing of construction works for Akii-Bua and Buhinga Stadia in Lira and Kabarole districts.

Amos Lugoloobi, the Minister of State for Planning, and Denis Hamson Obua, the Minister of State for Sports had appeared before the Committee that is inquiring into the government’s failure to utilize the grant that was provided by the People’s Republic of China to construct the regional stadia. 

Buhinga Stadium and Akii-Bua Olympic Stadium projects are presidential pledges of September 29 2012 and March 18, 2010, respectively. The two projects were discussed by Cabinet under the Ministry of Education to be financed under the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) for the period 2019-2021 but information before the Committee indicates that their financing has been since dropped.

Buhinga Stadium is proposed to be a 26,000 seater at a cost of US Dollars 64.9million while Akii-Bua Olympic Stadium 30,000 seaters and will cost US Dollars 48 million.

Minister Obua told the committee that President Yoweri Museveni and the President of China discussed at the 2018 FOCAC Summit in Beijing and approved the two stadia projects to be funded as priority projects, as a grant, under the initiative for Capacity Building.

According to Minister Obua, the projects have multi-sectoral implementation partners including the Local Governments of Kabarole and Lira that had to secure and provide adequate land, the Ministry of Education and Sports to ensure land is appropriate and conduct feasibility, and concept designs studies, and others.

The other project partners are the Ministry of Finance which had to process the financing agreements with China and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that had to undertake diplomatic coordination between Uganda and China in the implementation of the projects.

Obua said that land for the projects has been secured and that the Ministry of Education and Sports contracted two consultancies to conduct feasibility studies and detailed proposals for the Stadia.

He added that the Ministry of Education and Sports concluded the process of conducting the feasibility studies and detailed proposals for the two stadia and secured the relevant study reports, and submitted them to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance on25th May 2021.

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Lugoloobi told MPs that further consultations were held on the projects to be financed by the Chinese authorities under FOCAC and on 21st January 2021, the Government of Uganda officially submitted its prioritized projects for inclusion into the Uganda-China Pool of Projects and consideration for financing under the FOCAC cycle of 2019-2021.

“However, in a letter dated 21st August 2021, the Chinese authorities informed us that the Ugandan pool of projects had been revised and some projects had been dropped, following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Lugoloobi.

He added that China then committed to supporting African countries to address the Covid-19 outbreak through the donation of equipment and medicine and this affected financing for most of the projects.

Lugoloobi said that all these projects that were dropped would be prioritized in the next cycle of programming for the period 2021- 2023.

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Lillian Paparu Obiale, the Arua Woman MP, and Beatrice Akori, the Agago Woman MP wondered why the two stadia were not considered as priorities for funding. The MPs also demanded details of the Grant conditions.

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Kalungu West MP, Joseph Ssewungu dismissed the statements by the Ministers saying that the right people to provide answers about the delayed financing of the projects were the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija and the Secretary to Treasurer Ramathan Ggoobi.

Julius Acon, the Otuke County MP appealed to the Ministers to ensure that government appropriates funding for these stadia construction to develop the sports sector.

Obua said that initially, the government had planned to fund the project and a total of 600 million Shillings towards preliminary works was released. He said that this money was provided until the window for a grant came.

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Lugoloobi said that the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance is to mobilize the resources required to implement the project. He apologized for the delay in the financing of the project and he attributed this to the Covid-19 pandemic that did not only affect Uganda but also the country’s donors.