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Government suspends Lubiri airport development project

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Transport minister Abraham Byandala

Transport minister Abraham Byandala 

By  FREDERIC MUSISI

Posted  Monday, January 27  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

The project was meant to ease transport by allowing direct flights to the city.

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KAMPALA- The government has suspended proposals to construct a mini airport at Lubiri-Mengo to complement the Entebbe International Airport, citing the Buganda Kingdom’s indecision.

Speaking at the 20-year Civil Aviation Master Plan Consultative workshop in Kampala last week, Works and Transport minister Abraham Byandala said while negotiations are still ongoing, the kingdom seems to have showed less interest in the proposal.

“Mengo is still divided between culture and development,” Mr Byandala remarked, “The proposal was suspended for some time to let them (Mengo) first settle the differences.”

The aviation body in the country, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), had conceived the proposal as part of the “mitigation” scheme to rid the city of the chaos and transport congestion.

The proposal was part of the 25-year Transport Strategic Plan revealed by the Ministry of Works and Transport, which they said once developed, the airport facility would be operated by the kingdom.

However, when contacted yesterday, kingdom officials dismissed government claims about “indecision”.

The kingdom spokesperson and information minister, Mr Denis Sengendo, said they have heard the airport suggestions by government only in the press.
“There is nothing like differences to sort out because they have never contacted us officially,” Mr Sengendo maintained in a telephone interview with the Daily Monitor.

“And even if they did, we (Buganda) have bigger development plans for the Lubiri land and a committee is in place to handle the matter,” he added.
Lubiri [or palace] is the official residence of the ruling King of Buganda, constructed in 1885 by King Mwanga II.

But CAA authorities said last year they were in advanced talks with the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, in order to be allowed to develop the Mengo Palace into an airport at a fee.

They stressed the move was intended to help investors beat the traffic muddle from Entebbe by flying directly to the capital.

Uganda currently has one international airport, Entebbe, which was opened in 1952 during the British colonial administration, but it has since seen a surge in daily traffic and CAA authorities are mooting an expansion plan or an alternative airport.

musisif@ug.nationmedia.com