Pioneer Buses Relocated from Namboole Ahead of World Cup Qualifiers

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In preparation for the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifying matches, all Pioneer buses previously occupying part of the Mandela National Stadium grounds in Namboole have been successfully removed.

Following Uganda Cranes’ recent clearance to utilize the stadium for their qualifying fixtures against Botswana and Algeria next month, efforts have been intensified to ensure the venue is fully equipped for the international games.

During a recent inspection of the facility, Speaker of Parliament Anita Among directed State Minister of Sports Peter Ogwang to collaborate with Mandela National Stadium management to clear the premises of the Pioneer buses.

This directive came after it was revealed that the UPDF Engineering Brigade, the project contractor, encountered challenges in securing parking spaces for the stadium due to the presence of these buses. Concerns raised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in their April inspection report emphasized the need for adequate parking at Namboole.

Upon a visit by a URN reporter on Wednesday, it was observed that all Pioneer buses had been successfully cleared from the stadium grounds, significantly expanding the available parking area.

In an interview with URN, Col. Peter Kidemuka, the Project Engineer, disclosed that parking space for at least 900 vehicles had been secured. Additionally, Kidemuka noted that the UPDF had reclaimed over 120 of the 128 acres of land at Namboole that had been previously encroached upon.

In its April report, CAF also raised the need to relocate the media tribunal, address the unfinished ceiling, upgrade floodlights, improve the VVIP section, and reduce seating capacity from 40,818 to 38,000 due to visibility issues caused by structural posts.

Col. Kidemuka also said that the floodlights, a key concern, have been ordered and are expected to arrive shortly.

CAF asked FUFA to organize two test matches at the stadium to test its readiness and see whether it could be ready by June when the games will take place.

FUFA subsequently selected two Uganda Premier League matches. The test games which FUFA boss Magogo described as a success, convinced CAF to clear Namboole to host the June Cranes Games.

Col. Kidemuka said that even when the stadium was cleared, they continued working and since the test games were held, several other improvements have been made, particularly in the VVIP section. These include the installation of bulletproof mirrors and a new LED scoreboard which was one of the key issues highlighted in the CAF report that had declared Namboole unfit to host the June games.

Kidemuka explained that all the current improvements leave the first phase of renovation at 95 percent complete, and the remaining percentage is only left for the installation of floodlights. He said that they ordered 212 floodlights, an increase of 48 from the ones that existed before.

On the playing pitch, Kidemuka explained that the imported grass requires routine use to become thick and acclimatize. He recommended that at least two games per week be played on the pitch to maintain its quality.

Regarding the running track, Kidemuka said that they are awaiting a report from a world athletics expert on the condition of the track before installing a tartan surface inside the stadium and at the outside training facility.

Kidemuka further noted that upon completing the first phase, the contractor will begin the second phase, which includes constructing a new swimming pool and a basketball court, provided that funding is available.

This will be the first time Uganda Cranes hosts its games at Namboole Stadium since November 2019 when the facility was blacklisted by the continental soccer governing body, claiming that it was substandard.

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