By Cyprian Musoke and Paul Kiwuuwa
Due to increased traffic of bigger air crafts requiring modern facilities, MPs on the physical infrastructure committee have agreed to a request for external funding to upgrade Entebbe and selected airports to international standards.
In their report after visiting several aerodromes like Soroti, Kasese, Arua and Gulu, the MPs recommended a major upgrade of runways, taxi-ways and aprons at about US$448m (about sh1trillion).
“Africa has the potential for air traffic growth in terms of passengers and cargo. Leading airlines are also increasingly accessing Africa’s air transport market and several of them have acquired new big aircraft like airbus A380 which have necessitated upgrade of infrastructure, facilities and technologies by airports,” according to the committee report, informed by a concept paper by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
“There is also increased competition among airports for the growing traffic in Africa, with several airports undertaking expansion work like Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya, Julius Nyerere in Tanzania, Bole in Addis Ababa and Kigali. These have necessitated the expansion and upgrade,” the report reads.
“As passengers transiting through East Africa continue to grow together with rapidly changing airport technologies, a new passenger terminal complex is required. Most of the existing, terminal systems are already saturated and the expansion that can be dome on these sub-systems is limited,” CAA officials led by CEO Rama Makuza, said.
The committee chaired by Kiboga East MP Samuel Ssemugaba also sought to know how much money the authority was benefitting from the UN mission in
Congo (MONUC) use of CAA facilities in Entebbe, to which officials said MONUC had defaulted on payments amounting to over sh38b in user fees.
The MPs also wondered how many jobs CAA has created for nationals and why it was hiring expensive services of debt collectors to make claims from debtors like the Government, instead of litigation through court.
They also proposed the construction of a domestic terminal to stop the sharing of the same with international passengers, an aircraft maintenance centre, a multi-storey car park, a ferry port, re-equipping of the control tower with support technologies.
“With the successful implementation of these projects, CAA will be able to handle 3.5 million passengers and more a year,” the MPs observed. Other airports they proposed to expand are Kasese, Arua, and Gulu at a cost of US$176m to facilitate tourism and employment.