Govt moots plan to upgrade 3 airports

New members of the UCAA board with Works and Transport Gen Katumba Wamala (front row -centre) after taking oath in Kampala on September 27, 2023. PHOTO/SYLIVIA KATUSHABE

What you need to know:

  • Gen Katumba Wamala says the three airports will be upgraded in phases as and when funds allow.

The Minister for Works and Transport, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, has said the government plans to expand three airports in Kasese, Arua and Kidepo to promote tourism in the country.

Gen Katumba said the three airports will be upgraded in phases as and when funds allow.
He explained that although the government would want to upgrade all the 14 national airports, there are no funds for this but instead will prioritise the three for the high end tourists.

“Somebody doesn’t want to come here and then drive for 12 hours going to Queen Elizabeth; they want to come in here, pick a flight, go look at the animals, fly back and fly away. So those high-end tourists need the services of places such as Kasese airport, Kidepo airport and Arua,”  Gen Katumba said.

He noted that the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) will guide the ministry on priorities that should be considered in regard to the airports.

Gen Katumba explained that upgrading the three airports will also promote tourism within the East African region.

“There is a new thinking that if someone leaves Masai Mara [National Park in Kenya], for example, and wants to go to Kidepo, he or she shouldn’t go through Entebbe to go through the hustle of clearing and visas. They can fly directly to Kidepo, if we have an immigration point there; they do their job and go back,” he said.

He added: “We are still struggling but we shall soon get over it because the airline industry is growing.”
Gen Katumba was speaking at the inauguration of the new UCAA board members at the ministry offices in Kampala yesterday.

The new board comprises eight members. They are; retired former Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma (chairperson), Mr Moses Paul Lubowa, Ms Sylvia Namubiru and Mr Thomas James Kiggundu. Others are Mr Andrew Ocero, Ms Ethel Kamba, Mr John Washington Bulindi, and Mr Godfrey Ssemugooma.

Justice Kavuma, who will be serving for a second term, said the authority has improved the level of implementation of international safety standards and upgrading of aeronautical infrastructure.

He revealed that the aviation industry is on a path to recovery from the Covid-19 setback, explaining in August, Entebbe airport recorded a total of 191,507 passengers, the highest ever recorded in a single month.

“While the projections by the International Civil Aviation Organisation previously indicated that African countries were expected to fully recover from the pandemic in terms of passenger traffic performance by the end of 2024, Uganda may attain the feat a little earlier, judging from the recent trends, an indicator of good performance,” Justice Kavuma said.

He said the board will support initiatives towards the growth of the aviation industry in Uganda.
Gen Katumba, who revealed that the last concluded audit report into UCAA performance will be released today, tasked the new board to implement the recommendation in the report.