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Why Siagonjo Stadium in Budalang'i remains a dusty field

Wednesday September 4 2019

The main stand at Siagonjo Stadium in Bunyala South ward, Budalang'i Constituency. The structure is part of Sh37 million pumped in the stadium for renovations. PHOTO | GAITANO PESSA |

The main stand at Siagonjo Stadium in Bunyala South ward, Budalang'i Constituency. The structure is part of Sh37 million pumped in the stadium for renovations. PHOTO | GAITANO PESSA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

GAITANO PESSA
By GAITANO PESSA
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Dilapidated surface, unfinished changing room, rusty main stand and a perimeter fence made of rusty iron sheets is what welcomes one at the Siagonjo Stadium which is part of Bunyala Sports and Industrial Park project in Budalang’i Constituency of Busia County.

The only stadium in Budalang’i Constituency, Siagonjo Stadium in Bunyala South Ward is famous for political declarations that have overshadowed sports activities in the region.
Budalang’i Constituency committed more than Sh35 million to the project between 2007 and 2014 when Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba was area MP, but the stadium remains in poor state. It is used interchangeably for hosting political gatherings and village tournaments.

Documents in our possession from the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) indicate that the State first allocated Sh6 million to the stadium for landscaping and construction of the sports arena in 2007/08 financial year. The same year the government pumped in Sh9 million to support youth, sport and employment creation.

In 2008/09 financial year, Sh2 million was provided for construction of main pavilion, terraces and barrier gates. The project got another Sh12.5 million for completion of the pavilion, field track, fence and construction of the main gate between 2009 and 2012.

The money was also meant to be used for fitting of wooden seats, safety barriers and security lights.

In 2012/13 financial year, Sh3 million was disbursed for construction of changing rooms for male and female athletes. It was later topped up with another Sh3 million in 2013/14. The same year, the project received Sh1 million for fencing and painting of the stadia.

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The three phases of the project gobbled up Sh37.5 million but the stadium remains in a deplorable condition despite receiving colossal amount of money for a facelift.

On site, construction of changing rooms is incomplete, although money was spent. The pavilion has a very small capacity and can hold not more than 300 spectators. Although money was spent, there are no terraces and barrier gates at the facility.

The facility is yet to be connected to the main electricity power line, although the perimeter fence is half finished. The condition of the stadium prompted the current MP Raphael Wanjala to conduct a social audit early this year putting the former administration on the spot.

Wanjala told Nation Sport that work done on the stadium does not match money allocated to it from the CDF kitty. “How can a small and dilapidated structure like the VIP stand and changing rooms that are at the venue cost more than Sh35 million? This is theft of taxpayers’ money and we will not allow it. We have assessed the project alongside others implemented by the former administration across the four wards in Budalang’i and found out massive inconsistencies,” posed Wanjala.

He said he has invited the Director of Public Prosecution, and officers from Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate possible misappropriation of public funds.

“Our social audit has revealed that over Sh500 million cannot be accounted for. The audit did not give a number of ‘dubious’ projects clean bill of health,” he added.

However, Namwamba dismissed Wanjala’s claims, saying queries raised about the project which started in 2008 had been answered years ago when it was given a clean bill of health by the CDF office and the Auditor General.

Namwamba said the project did not cost more than Sh5 million.

“In 2011, Wanjala took a case to court alleging that money had been wasted and the case was thrown out. The amount of money that was spent on the project was audited and found to have been properly spent,” he said.

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