The airport will offer quick transport for human resources needed for the oil and gas projects close to Lake Albert and in western Uganda
PIC: Katumba Wamala (centre) inspecting the proposed runway of Hoima International Airport. (Credit: John Odyek)
HOIMA - The construction of Hoima International Airport is to start in May and is expected to be completed in three years' time, Gen. Katumba Wamala, the state minister for works was informed while on a visit to the project site.
Herbert Ngobi Muzaale, the chief engineer of aerodrome planning and development at the Civil Aviation Authority, told Wamala that preliminary construction work has started.
"The clearing of the ground has started for the construction of the runway. The contractor and the consultant are on the ground. They have set up their camp and facilities for construction," Muzaale said.
Eng. Tony Kavuma Bafirawala, the chief mechanical engineer with the works ministry, said the Hoima airport would be the second international airport in Uganda. He said SBC Uganda, the Israeli company that had built Entebbe International Airport in the 1960s was the same company that won the tender to construct the Hoima Airport. SBI Uganda another Israeli company are the project consultants and supervisors.
Bafirwala said within a tight schedule, they want to have the runway to be completed by May 2020. He said the Government had acquired a loan of sh1.3 trillion from Standard Chartered Bank and UK Export Finance to undertake the first phase of the construction.
He said the airport was deemed necessary after potential investors in the refinery and other oil-related projects voiced concern that Uganda's narrow and weak roads would complicate the transportation of heavy loads and equipment.
Bafirwala said the airport would offer quick transport for human resources needed for the oil and gas projects close to Lake Albert and in western Uganda.
Wamala asked communities living around the planned airport to create businesses that can supply food stuffs and labour.
He, however, cautioned the area residents about poor attitude to work, poor work ethic and lack of trust.
"People talk of local content; you want employment on the project. SBC does not want to import workers from elsewhere. We have agreed with them that 30% to 40% of the workforce must be local. But the problem is people will come to work today and miss the next day," he said.
The main construction works are scheduled to start in May 2018 and the runway is scheduled to be completed by May 2020. The whole project is due to be completed in 36 months.
Mihail Gorachinov, the senior project manager of SBC Uganda, said the company would complete the project within the time and would support the nearby communities with various projects to improve their welfare.
Phase I of the project will see the establishment of the airport serving mainly cargo aircraft and small passenger aircraft for the construction-phase of the refinery and the oil-fields -infrastructure.
Phase II of the airport project will facilitate increased commercial passenger flights, support services among the local population and incoming tourists as well as other industries that might be set up nearby such as the fish and flower industries.