The ministry of Education and Sports has clarified on the money disbursed for the construction of Akii-Bua Olympic stadium that has got social media users on the African continent talking. There were claims that more than Shs 600 million disbursed for the construction of the stadium had been mismanaged.
Early this week, the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) referred Lamex Omara Apitta, the commissioner of physical education under the Education and Sports ministry for alleged mismanagement of the money advanced for stadium works.
Before he was handed over to police, Omara told MPs that government had disbursed Shs 665million for the construction of the stadium. But in twist of events, the Lira chief administrative officer (CAO), Mark Tivu said a day later that the district had only received Shs received 300 million that they spent on clearing the 12-acre, site which involved uprooting trees, levelling the ground, opening boundaries and access roads, draining the swamp, construction of a pit latrine and the construction of a 200-seater pavilion.
But the ministry of Education under secretary, Aggrey Kibenge, insists that they disbursed Shs 665 million to Lira district.
He explains that the ministry first channelled Shs 400 million to Lira district local government in FY 2015/2016, Shs 175 million FY 2016/2017 and Shs 90 million FY 2017/2018. Kibenge says there could have been an information gap and that why some district officials say they did not receive Shs 665m but their records show that Lira district received a total of Shs 665 million.
Kibenge explains that Lira district asked for Shs 665 million for opening the boundaries of the land earmarked to host the facility, clear and level the field of 18.455 hectares, construction of access roads and drainage channels. He says work has been progressing well except for the misinformation about the alleged misuse of the funds.
“Demarcation of two temporary football fields, a basketball and volleyball field, construction of a 3 stance latrine and a 150 seater temporary pavilion has been made,” Kibenge told URN in an interview.
Lira district CAO, Tivu, has since backtracked on his earlier claims that they only received Shs 300 million. In his October 30 letter to the ministry, Tivu confirms having received Shs 665 million. He also attached copies of audited payment vouchers on the letter detailing how the money was spent.
“It is important to note that all activities were implemented as planned based on the funding received and there was no audit queries raised as far as the implementation were concerned,” reads the letter.
He explains that they need an additional Shs 260 million for the construction of changing rooms, guest pavilion and also installing culverts.
Omara, the commissioner physical education in the Education ministry, says only Shs 80 million was used to construct the pavilion at the stadium, while Shs 150 million went to survey the land, bush clearing, leveling, demarcation and grading the hardcore surface.
He explains that another Shs 120 million was spent on paying compensation for the land, graveling, marrum works, draining the swamp, planting grass and selected trees. Omara says most the preliminary work went towards preparation of the site and not construction.
According to the original plan of the stadium, it is expected to cost $47m (about Shs 175bn). Once completed, the stadium is expected to come second to the Namboole stadium in Kampala.
“The money is supposed to come from China, and the ministry of Finance and planning and the Office of the Prime Minister are looking at this. If it is to be the stadium that people expect it cannot just cost Shs 600m,” Omara said.
First published on the observer Uganda