By Abalo Irene Otto
The Paramount Chief of Acholi, Lawirwodi David Onen Acana II has applauded the people of Acholi for their generous contributions towards the renovation of Pece war Memorial Stadium that is due to host the East Africa Secondary School Games beginning August 17, 2017.
He was speaking on Thursday during a courtesy visit and inspection of the ongoing works at the stadium. Acana observed that the contribution of the community in kind by offering their labour depicts the true culture of the Acholi who work together for a common cause.
“I am happy with the way we Acholi have united and contributed in whatever way possible to have this stadium renovated. It would not be like this if we had waited for government because government things are slow,” He said.
He advised the Acholi community to help district leaders for the work to be completed on time.
Three months ago, Gulu district Local Government took over the renovation of Pece Stadium from the Board of Trustees and War Veterans Association. The custodians of the stadium instituted a fully-fledged finance committee to oversee contributions from well-wishers. The committee was aimed at mobilizing resources for the work to commence.
Rwot Acana noted that the government of Uganda should take part in the preparation activities since it is Uganda not Gulu alone hosting the games.
Seven countries are expected to send participants for the games. These are; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Zanzibar, and Burundi.
The project site Engineer at Pece Stadium, Gideon Gumisireza told the paramount chief that the total cost of renovation is 700million shillings. He added that about 300million raised locally have been used but there is a debt of about 100million arising from supply and services offered by contractors.
“You are not seeing many workers on the site because they are demanding for their pay for services offered. The money contributed by the community has not been enough to cover up all costs we incurred,” Gumisireza told the paramount chief.
The paramount chief who said he was representing the solidarity of the Acholi and other chiefs promised to seat with his committee for a decision on their contribution towards the renovation works.
In June, when the renovation started, a team from the district engineering office carried out an assessment and came up with a budget of Shs360 million that the district was canvassing.
According to Gulu district Vice Chairperson, Simon Oola, who was present at Pece Stadium when Rwot Acana visited, said the district has not yet received any contribution from the government despite its continued communication and attempts to make the Ministry of Education and Sports intervene. He says district resources are depleted; they are depending on well-wishers for work to continue.
Fortunately, today (Friday), DFCU Bank has handed over 1,000 bags of cement that are valued at over Shs30 million towards the renovation of the stadium.
Pece stadium was constructed in 1959 in memory of World War II veterans from Acholi Sub region. It was selected as one of the venues that will host athletic competitions in 2017.
Over 1,000 schools are expected to take part in the 16th edition of the East African Secondary School Games and will be hosted by St Joseph College, Layibi and Sacred Heart Girls School. The students are expected to take part in a variety of indoor and outdoor games including football, rugby, netball, basketball, volleyball, handball, hockey, chess, swimming and badminton.
0n July 18, 2017, Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda visited Pece Stadium to inspect the ongoing works. He assured Gulu local leaders that Pece Stadium will be ready to host the East African Secondary Schools Games. However, the district still awaits any contribution from the central government towards the renovation works.