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UCAA Plan To Divest From Entebbe Airport Management :: Uganda Radionetwork

UCAA Plan To Divest From Entebbe Airport Management

Director General Fred Bamwesigye says plans to separate regulation and airport management is UCAA's brain child but still being discussed in-house before an informed report is given to Cabinet for consideration and way forward.

Plans are under way to divest the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) from managing Entebbe International Airport so that the organization concentrates on regulation function.

The plan was disclosed on Tuesday by the UCAA director Fred Bamwesigye at the UCAA Stakeholders Engagement Breakfast Meeting to mark international aviation week at the Serena Hotel – Kampala.

The week is celebrated annually by aviation stakeholders worldwide to take stock of the industry and assess challenged and opportunities.  The celebration was held under the theme: Advancing Innovations for Global Aviation Development.

Bamwesigye said plans to separate regulation and airport management was the brain child of UCAA but was still being discussed in-house before an informed report is given to Cabinet for consideration and way forward.

The disclosure was prompted by a proposal by a retired industry expert, Barry Kashambo during a key note address. Kashambo had proposed that the move is an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommendation he would recommend because it improves oversight. 

Kashambo served as ICAO Eastern and Southern Africa regional director from 2015 to 2023.  Earlier on he had served at the East African Civil Aviation Safety and Security Agency (CASSOA) and different capacities at UCAA. He boasts of over fourty years of experience in aviation service in different areas including aviation engineering, state over sight systems, security and so on.

In response to Kashambo’s proposal, Bamwesigye said UCAA was not averse to the proposal and had already started discussion about it.  When a position is ready, it would be handed over to Cabinet for action, Bamwesigye said adding that major  intention is to improve service to clients.

Transport Minister Katumba Wamala who was chief guest at the occasion also said that as government he agreed with Kashambo on the proposal.  “UCAA should be in position to concentrate on regulation and management can be done by someone else,” he said.

Kashambo during a panel discussion later, said the combination of Airport management and industry posed conflict of interest problems. He criticized the low investment in aviation by African states, calling on a scale up to uplift the industry to catalyse other areas of development.  

A PhD candidate in Strategic Management Studies at Strathmore University – Nairobi, Kashambo said African aviation had continued and persistent deficiencies including regulation, personnel and safety and security and these needed to be addressed to put the continent on a better footing.  He disclosed, Africa accounted for only 2% of the aviation industry’s global traffic, an appalling indicator.

He called upon Uganda to link tourism to aviation to bring in more revenue to the country.  He gave an example of 1976 attack on Entebbe by Israel forces after Arab hijackers landed at the airport, being an opportunity Uganda has not exploited to the best. “That Netanyahu (Israel Premier)’s brother, (Jonathan) Netanyahu was killed at Entebbe – that alone you know how many Israelis would be coming here to see what happened?” Kashambo mused as he suggested that in other countries, the ruins of that deadly rescue mission would have been preserved for tourism purposes.

Commenting on UCAA performance of 72% in the audit by ICAO last September, Kahsambo said there was need to work for better performance because the global average considered good rating stood at 75%.  It was specifically the area of security and accident investigation that was said to have pulled down Uganda’s performance, an area where Kashambo promised support at no cost when Uganda is audited next.

In his remarks minister Katumba Wamala commended the key note speaker for being candid and not “putting icing on the cake,” criticism that would help UCAA and government improve the aviation sector.

He also pleaded with members of Parliament especially of the Budget and National Economy Committees to be mindful of the strategic importance of the aviation sector and the need for resources when it comes to allocating funds.

Katumba called on UCAA management to ensure the country performs better when subjected to the forthcoming civil aviation security audit in January and February 2024.

Commenting on expansion and modification works being undertaken at the Entebbe International Airport ahead of the Non-Aligned Movement and Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers of Parliaments conference early in January 2024, the minister said he had been assured all would be complete by December to ensure better “ambiance” to the guests. 

He urged Entebbe Airport staff and all residents of Entebbe to exhibit Uganda’s hospitality to the visitors when they arrive.  

UCAA Board chairman retired Justice Steven Kavuma said Uganda had made many firsts in the industry and urged for focus and commitment to improve.              

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