Instructors at the East African Civil Aviation Academy (EACAA), also known as the Soroti Flying School, have gone on strike after they went without pay for three months.
The aircrafts fly without insurance, some are grounded because of lack of fuel and others are in poor mechanical conditions yet students take years to graduate and at least 13 have dropped out because of “the poor teaching conditions.”
These revelations were made by Soroti Woman MP, Ms Angeline Asege, who tabled a petition in Parliament on Thursday, highlighting the problems at the flying school. She told the House that things have gone from bad to worse and that the eight instructors who had just returned from the US had gone on strike over unpaid salaries and allowances.
“There is a serious problem at Soroti Flying School that needs urgent government attention before it is too late,” Ms Asege said. “Students are flying with fuel which is about to expire and the aircrafts are in a very poor mechanical condition,” Ms Asege said.
She added: “Out of the 300 students since 2001, only 27 have been passed out as certified pilots; the others are languishing in the school instead of finishing in the mandatory two- and- half years. The fuel for aircrafts is always not enough and when available, expiry dates is another issue.”
The MP told the House that although nine aircrafts were purchased in 2011 under the directive of President Museveni, only one is in working condition and the others are always grounded due to lack of fuel and that the poor training conditions demoralise trainers and dispirits students.”
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said: “It is true we discussed this matter two-and-half years ago. This is one of the few assets we received when the EAC died. If we are going to leave it to die, then I don’t know.”
When asked to explain the situation at Soroti Flying School, the deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali, who is also the acting Leader of Government Business, however, promised to convey “what is taking place at Soroti Flying School” to the minister and that he will be asked to prepare a response as soon as possible.
However, Ms Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality) asked: “Do we still need this school? Or they are planning to turn it into a school for agriculturalists or a driving school for that matter? Why do we give young people hope when we don’t even have an airline? May be we need to train bus drivers because that’s what we have.”
About the School
Soroti Flying School is the only pilot training school in the country. It was founded in September 1971 under the Directorate of Civil Aviation of the EAC. When the first EAC collapsed in 1977, the Ugandan government took over the management and maintenance of the school.