Home Others General The MTN Arena: A volcano of disaster boiling within

The MTN Arena: A volcano of disaster boiling within

by Nnalubaale Sports
3 minutes read

By: Daaki Sadat

On the evening of Friday 17th February 2023, the AfroBasket ZONE V Women basketball qualifiers were well into their fourth day. And more fans were still flocking the MTN Lugogo Indoor Arena to support their national teams.


With neighbouring countries in action, the crowds were now bigger than in the first three days. At the ‘Sideline’ bar, just outside the Arena, beer pints are flowing. It is a fun filled event as we usher in the weekend.

Not the same story can be told by Jimmy (not actual name), one of the Arena’s janitors. Inside the men’s restroom, Jimmy, looks up at blinking faulty lights and down at a dirty and stinking floor.

Without janitorial gloves, Jimmy doesn’t hesitate to reach out for a mop and wipes the floor. “It is beyond my working hours, but I have been forced to stay, this place stinks. Urine is quite acidic,” he says.

“Urine has to be washed immediately, but the water is usually off. The pipes are dry.” He adds. Jimmy alludes that without running water, metallic urinal pots and toilet bowls are quite challenging to clean compared to ceramic ones.

That’s the reason for the stench. “Oh, I’m a toilet geek now,” he laughs. “I love these washrooms. They literally feed me. But I hate them, especially on a day like this. Huge crowds but with no running water. They stink. I pity those who use them. I can never,” he stressed.

Maria (not actual name) another cleaner picking garbage placing them in a bin, “These toilets are often cleaned once a day. I don’t remember the last time they were cleaned with antiseptics.” She smilingly says “Usually, it is just liquid soap in water and that’s it. I don’t find that hygienic and that’s the reason for the stinking. We have become used to the stench” she adds.

“How about the female washrooms?” I asked. Laughingly, Maria replies, “they are in use at the moment.” She invites me back to be at the Arena on Monday morning. “I guess you’ll get a chance to get an answer,” she adds.

Most spectators come and enjoy a basketball game, a boxing match, a volleyball tournament, or even a badminton circuit. I love the MTN arena. I remember the first basketball game I watched there. That game between Kyambogo Warriors and D-Mark Power made me fall in love with local basketball and for the last 12 years, I have frequented the arena.

Recently, the Arena’s toilets have become a regular complaint from fans. The stainless steel urinal pots and drum-sized toilet bowls that actually match the building’s architecture that give the toilets a uniquely disgusting stink. It’s a shame, really, that the MTN Arena’s bathrooms probably end up messing up the overall fan experience. This is also plagued by the need to visit the doctor’s office the next day.

Well, this is not just about the Arena’s toilets, rather a story of three Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and several unknown. Violet (not actual names), a known feminist and beer lover learned about the AfroBasket ZONE V women basketball qualifiers.

“I am here to support the ‘Gazelles’. OMG, they play so beautifully. I have loved the experience” she says. “Not, the toilets though. You know I downed a few pints, and trust me, if you thought the (MTN Arena) bathrooms were just a place to get rid of all that beer. Think again. In fact, do not drink at all if you can.” She adds.

When contacted two days after their Saturday visit to the Arena, the three friends Lucy, Uwera and Macklin first felt uncomfortable talking about it. But, they all informed me that they have had to visit the doctor’s office to treat UTIs.

“I have always avoided public bathrooms,” Uwera says. “That’s why I never hang for long in bars. I really loved watching the girls play. The decision to stay longer forced me to use the bathrooms and has earned me an extra (doctor’s) bill to pay” she adds.

Fast rewind to September 2010, as the sports fraternity in Uganda, we were all delighted when it was announced that MTN Uganda had renovated the Lugogo Indoor stadium for Shs. 1.7bn.

We all clapped in cheers, jubilant that the worst days of the Lugogo Indoor stadium were gone. Well, MTN Uganda did it. The polished floor, the lighting and bright yellow bucket seats were nothing but phenomenal at the time.


Officially, the upgraded multipurpose facility was then listed as an 846-seater. That same year, the final playoff game between Warriors and D-mark Power was played in the newly refurbished arena.

More than 2000 fans flocked to the arena. This was more than twice its seating capacity. That was just a week after refurbishments were completed and that is when damage to the Arena started thanks to greed from the then Federation of Uganda Basketball Association.


The MTN Arena has had its good days. Twelve years down the road we witnessed the Warriors, D-Mark power as well as the MTN Arena lose its vitality. With no major renovations done in the past 12 years, the arena is a boiling volcano, only waiting to erupt. The roof is leaking, ceilings are dropping down, the seats are broken, the toilets are a hotbed of infections.

In the current state, the MTN Arena is a disaster in waiting, a ticking time bomb. The Arena is no longer habitable. It needs to be closed off. Both the National Council of Sports or the Kampala City Council Authority Public Health Department should have noted this by now.

The question we should be asking by now is what is in the contract between MTN Uganda and National Council of Sports (NCS) that has seen the facility go to the dogs?

Courtesy photos

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