The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority’s (UCAA) recently registered a number of positive milestones. Among them, amendment of the authority’s Act, and special recognition for good performance at the recently conducted Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP). Nnyonyi publication caught up with the Authority’s (UCAA) Director General, Prof. David Mpango Kakuba for updates. Below are excerpts of the interview:
Nnyonyi: Uganda recently got recognition from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the area of Aviation Security. What was this about and what does it mean for the country?
Director General: Following an outstanding performance in the Universal Security Audit Programme – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) conducted by ICAO in 2017, Uganda received an ICAO Council President Certificate in Aviation Security at a special ceremony at ICAO Headquarters in Montreal.
The President’s Certificate was established in support of ICAO’s “No Country Left Behind” initiative.
Uganda scored 81.8% after the recent audit well above the global average of 73% and the African and Indian Ocean (AFI) states average of 58%. The award is a vote of confidence in Uganda’s aviation security system(s).
NN: The Authority recently changed its name. What prompted this action and what makes it significant?
D.G: The change is aimed at ensuring harmonization of Uganda’s regulations and practices with universal practice. Most Civil Aviation regulatory authorities start with the name of the country for purposes of differentiation. The name change followed enactment of the CAA (Amendment) Act, 2019.
NN: What were the other salient issues in the CAA (Amendment) Act, 2019?
D.G: The CAA (Amendment) Act, 2019 grants unrestricted access to UCAA inspectors to inspect aerodromes, air operator premises and aircraft without prior notice.
Inspectors had to first seek permission from air operators and aerodrome managers to visit their premises for routine inspections. This often compromised Uganda’s scores in relation to Aviation Legislation in previous audits.
The Act also provides for on-spot penalties, among others, to enhance safety and efficiency in service provision.
NN: What infrastructure developments are ongoing at Entebbe Airport, and how will they transform Uganda’s aviation sector?
D.G: In line with the Uganda Vision 2040, UCAA developed a 20-year National Civil Aviation Master Plan covering the period up to 2033. Upgrade and expansion of Entebbe is critical to the development of the air transport industry in light of the growing passenger and cargo traffic figures.
While Entebbe handled 118,000 international passengers in 1991 at UCAA’s establishment, the Airport handled 1.84 million passengers in 2018.
Partly for this reason, Arrivals Immigration counters were increased from 14 to 20 and Departure counters from 6 to 11 to manage the long queues.
The upgrade works include, several components that by the end of September 2019 stood at 56% completion, overall. They include connecting Taxiway to Taxiway A that leads to the Cargo aircraft parking Apron, rehabilitation of Runway 12/30 and a 100,000 tones capacity Cargo Centre that stood at 80.47% completion level by end of September, 2019.
The current cargo facilities will be replaced by a new Terminal building to be ready by the end of 2021.
Meanwhile a fuel hydrant line and farm are also being installed. The fuel farm and hydrant system will serve the new Cargo Centre, after installation of larger tanks of 23 million liters capacity.
Rehabilitation of aircraft parking apron 4 and VVIP parking Apron 2 are expected to be completed December 2019.
Modification of the current passenger terminal by Seyani Brothers (U) Ltd was at 67% by the end of September 2019. It will create more room for departing passengers.
While the current capacity of EIA is 2 million passengers, on completion of the first phase (2021), the Airport will accommodate at least 3.5 million passengers.
A Terminal operations Control Centre has also been put up by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to ensure automation of operations. This is part of a USD 9.5 million grant by South Korea.
NN: Uganda recently attained the ISO 9001:2015 quality management system certification. How does it benefit the aviation sector?
D.G: The ISO 9001:2015 certification is a transition from the ISO 9001:2008 standard that was attained by UCAA and EIA in 2016. The certification implies that UCAA employs systems and processes that meet the needs of all parties in the industry.
The QMS certificate relates to the provision of efficient aeronautical services within the Flight Information Region of Uganda which include regulation, licensing, air navigation, search and rescue, certification of air operators, operation and maintenance of aerodromes, security and corporate support services.
NN: The government is currently constructing a second international airport in Hoima. What’s the status of the project and what should stakeholders expect from it?
D.G: Construction of the Airport in Hoima commenced in April 2018 by SBC Uganda Limited.
The works involve paving a 3.5 kilometers Runway, Installation of electro-mechanical systems, communication and navigation systems, construction of an air traffic control tower, a multi-purpose terminal building for cargo and passengers, and other service structures. The project also involves an airfield ground lighting system, a fire station, car parking lots, access roads, taxiways, perimeter fence and an electrical center.
The airport will support construction of the oil refinery and also boost tourism, trade and agriculture.
It will be the second largest in Uganda after Entebbe.
NN: What would you say are the biggest challenge(s) to implementing the organization’s plans?
D.G: The challenges include limited land for expansion of the Airport. The other is uncompetitive aviation fuel prices arising from Uganda being a landlocked country. This ultimately impacts on the air ticket cost.
Taxation of aviation safety equipment such as Fire Trucks is another challenge. Equipment of that nature is very expensive yet it is not used to generate profit, but to enhance safety.
NN: You recently told Parliament that taxing the Passenger Service Charge makes Entebbe Airport less competitive. What is at stake?
D.G: Uganda is the only country among the ICAO member States that imposes Value Added Tax (VAT) on the passenger service charge. The 18% tax translates into an additional USD 7 on the ticket. However, we are engaging responsible Government agencies through our parent Ministry, (Works and Transport) to address the matter.
NN: Besides the tangible developments, what other achievements have UCAA registered that you would like to share with Nnyonyi readers?
D.G: Firstly the excellent performance by Uganda in the Universal Security Audit Programme – Secondly, promulgation of the CAA (Amendment) Act, 2019, which has strengthened the oversight mechanism.
Third is the revival of the national airline, which is expected to further boost Uganda’s air transport industry.
The other achievements include the aeronautical Information Management (AIM) System, a A National Search and Rescue Plan and a Regional Search and Rescue Agreement signed by Partner States of the East African Community (EAC).
Uganda also hosted the 6th ICAO African and Indian Ocean (AFI) Conference and the 31st African Civil Aviation Commission Plenary in May 2019.