- Kakindu houses a community centre, former Central Division offices, a club house, a football ground, Jinja Public Library, a volleyball court and Pastor Ibrahim Omaido’s Christ Commission Ministries Pentecostal Church.
KAMPALA. Five years ago, Mubarak Kirunda visited Brazil for the World Cup and returned with an ambitious goal -- to construct Kakindu Stadium.
The wise decision he took helped Kakindu host the 27th edition of the Copa Coca-Cola after Fufa had declared the facility unfit to host any activities.
For the last five years, he has made it a personal mission to build the stadium using rubbles and debris from demolished structures. Kirunda’s rudimentary methods are complimented by his passion.
Kirunda, the LC3 chairman Jinja Central Division, has transformed the facility which looked tired and decayed putting up terraces, a refurbished dressing room complete with a tunnel.
The stadium though is still at the second phase, he hopes to have it roofed, complete with a museum, conference hall as well as floodlights and probably be named after him by 2021. He envisages a 30,000 all-seater stadium that could cost Shs24bn by completion.
But what Kirunda has accomplished in just four years is even more remarkable.
One man’s army
With no formal training but ingenuity, stubbornness, hard work and resourcefulness, Kirunda – born in Mayuge to Abdu Menya, a former estate worker at Kakira Sugar Plantation – is drawing funds from his company, Busoga Construction.
Since launching his ambitious plan in 2015, this businessman’s experiment has boomed into an operation that has seen him as the financier, planner, engineer, architect et al.
He started with filling the area that now holds the terraces with murram before he embarked on laying slabs using debris. Fufa promised to take care of the playing surface by installing an artificial turf when other works are complete.
“It’s not about me but the people of Jinja. It is about helping as many people as I can,” Kirunda, who completed Senior Four as a mature learner at Makerere Adult Education Centre in 2007 to prepare for politics, said.
The project faced resistance from the Municipal Council yet he has had to deal with court battles over the land’s ownership which has been contested by an Indian family.
Kakindu houses a community centre, former Central Division offices, a club house, a football ground, Jinja Public Library, a volleyball court and Pastor Ibrahim Omaido’s Christ Commission Ministries Pentecostal Church. It was also home for Uganda Premier League teams; Kirinya-Jinja SS and Bul as well as JMC Hippos, which was in the Big League.
At the beginning of last season, the teams had to find refuge elsewhere after Fufa stopped them from using the stadium. The perimeter fence opposite Narambhai Road had collapsed. Water and electricity had been disconnected. Home teams were contributing about Shs50,000 per month to use the facility.
But when Kirunda attempted to seek help from them, Kirinya-Jinja SS, resorted to the school grounds while Bul rented the artificial turf at the nearby Njeru Fufa Technical Centre in Buikwe.
Left alone, he put together some finances and sped up the construction works.
“If I had opted to go through every channel, I would get nowhere. People would ask for a lot of money yet this land was also subject to grabbing,” he said.
When the terraces took shape several people were excited that organisers of this year’s Copa Coca-Cola asked to use the facility. It ended up hosting up to 37 games of the 206 played on eight grounds. The stadium was always filled to capacity.
“It was tremendous. People were suspicious at first but I am happy we hosted a successful tournament.”
Next season, URA FC plans to use the facility as their home ground
Hotbed of conflict
That Kirunda is in court for trespass and constructing the facility without an approved plan is a just a tip of the iceberg. The land on plots 17-27 has been in question with the Indian Recreation Club, represented by Rajni Taylor, the chairperson of the Indian Association of Uganda board of trustees and Raojibhai Patel, the chairperson of Indian Association Jinja, trying to repossess it.
In 2016, Kirunda was ordered by the high court to pay Shs10m annual rent stretching from March 2014 as a result of unlawful use of the said land.
Although the Indians leased the land on January 1, 1913 for 49 years, which term expired on December 31, 1962, the ‘owners’ claim that in May 1960, they renewed the lease for a further 49 years. Yet Kirunda claims that when the Indians were expelled in 1972, all repossession expired in 1993.