Uganda being a land locked country means air transport is of strategic importance to the nation as it guarantees an alternative gateway to the rest of the world.
It provides the most efficient and quickest transport means to and from Uganda. The country’s perishable high value commodities like fish, flower, fruits and vegetables some of the biggest foreign exchange earners are exported by air.
This has called for improvement in the sector by upgrading the Entebbe International Airport on to of developing more air field across that country.
The government through the Ministry of Works and Transport has embarked on a task of developing the sector to ease transport, promote tourism and facilitate the oil and petroleum exploration in the Albertine Region.
“The development of a safe, efficient and reliable air transport industry is thus among government’s priority programmes,” says an official from the Ministry of Works and Transport.
The Upgrading of Entebbe International Airport has included several components and the overall construction progress is at more than 55 per cent with 75 per cent works for the new Cargo Center complex completed including the foundation, superstructure, roofing works and internal partitioning ongoing.
71.9 per cent rehabilitation works for expansion of Apron 1 completed including backfilling, base layers completed and wearing course works ongoing.
Information from the Ministry further indicates 85 per cent rehabilitation works for runway 12/30 completed, the Cargo Apron progress at 85 per cent, earthworks of 7m fill, friction course layer of 1m depth, pavement layers of sub-base, base layer, and wearing course layer completed.
Access and service roads are at 90 per cent progress i.e. Earthworks fill, pavement layers of sub-base, base layer, and wearing course layer completed.
The establishment of new Fuel Farm and Hydrant System is also past 20 per cent including improvement of soils at the fuel farm done, perimeter wall works ongoing, foundation works for tanks is in progress and the double fuel pipeline has been laid at the cargo apron.
On top of these, excavation of fuel line from the farm to the cargo apron has been done as well as X-ray testing for pipes. All construction works will be completed by FY 2020/21
The government is also in the process of constructing Kabaale Airport in Hoima District to facilitate oil exploration activities.
Master Plan and Detailed Engineering Designs completed, procured civil works contractor and signed commercial contract on 05 May 2017. Supervision consultant for development of Kabaale International Airport has also been procured and the physical works for the development of the Airport is at 35 per cent.
Revival of the National Airline
In order to develop Entebbe International Airport into a hub, government embarked on reviving the National Airline.
Uganda National Airline Company was registered in January 2018 and recruitment for key personnel for the National Airline Company was undertaken.
Air Services License was issued on 23rd November 2018 and the certification process for the airline was done.
Four Bombardier CRJ900 aircrafts have so far been delivered to ply the regional routes and their performance is already impressive.
Funding arrangements to purchase 2 Airbus aircraft (A330) are in advanced stages
Improvement in services offered by the Civil Aviation Authority have included increasing the departure immigration counters from 6 to 11 and arrival immigration counters from 14 to 20, booths to reduce long queues at Entebbe airport.
Installation of a modern Terminal Operations Control Center at the airport and a training facility at the CAA Head office, upgrading the Air Traffic Control Radar and Airspace Management System giving it an extended life span of 10 more years, Redesigning Entebbe airport instrument flight procedures to meet the new ICAO requirements. These became effective on 6th Dec 2018.
The others include the Air Traffic Services Message Handling System at Entebbe airport and 06 upcountry aerodromes of Arua, Kasese, Kisoro, Mbarara, Soroti and Gulu.