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Race against time to fix event venues

IN GULU, UGANDA

An army water truck empties into the swimming pool at St Joseph’s College Layibi, Gulu.

The mud around the pool is less than it has been since we got here on Thursday night, but there is clearly more work to be done.

The amount of water that the army truck carries cannot fill the two metres deep, 25 metres long and 20 metres wide facility at once. So, it keeps emptying water into the swimming pool and disappearing into the barracks to fetch some more. This has become a routine.

As the water emerges from the dirty pipe, soiled by the muddy road, it appears clear and clean. But inside the pool, it’s not so clean. There is a tinge of green in the water.

Will this pool be ready for the swimming competitions at the Brookside East Africa Secondary School Games?

“I think the issue now is filling it with water. Once that is done, all will be good,” Uganda team swimming team coach Walter Ocitti says.   

“Our competitions will last two days from Thursday. Day one is preliminaries then finals on the final day,” he adds.

Having seen the cleanliness of other pools, there is also a concern about the purity of the water as seen yesterday afternoon under the blazing Gulu sun.

“All we need to do is get drugs to treat the water. Once you drop the drug into the water, it can clean it up within an hour,” Ocitti explains.

Unlike three-time defending champions who have the resources to train at Golden Gate Hotel and Bomah within Gulu, the 30 Ugandan swimmers, 14 female and 16 male, have not had a plunge to practice yet.

“We need to design means to train soon. Without that, Kenya could as well be champions again,” a frustrated Ocitti concludes. 

Organisers have blamed the delays on the rain. With time running out, the finishing touches to the pool were done with a think blue coat of paint and not the usual tiling.

The grass surface at the St Joseph’s College Layibi is bumpy and uneven.

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