UGANDA CAA COMPLETES PLANNING FOR GULU AND KASESE AERODROME EXPANSION
Planning for the expansion of two important upcountry aerodromes, Gulu in Northern Uganda and Kasese in Western Uganda, has reportedly been completed, according to information released by the organizations Corporate Communications and PR Manager Ignie Igundura.
It was stated on the occasion that the cost to fully develop both aerodromes into international airports, meeting ICAO requirements and safety and security standards, some 240 million US Dollars would be required at todays cost, prompting the UCAA to opt for a gradual approach of upgrading and modernizing the two, while in addition still having to maintain and eventually modernize another 10 aerodromes and airfields under their jurisdiction.
A regular source, close to the UCAA, on condition of anonymity for not being an authorized spokesperson, had this to say: True that is. Right now the masterplans are complete and the UCAA is looking for finance. The priority right now is to complete the masterplan roll out for Entebbe International Airport because that is our countrys gateway to the world. We are seeking to relocate the cargo terminal from the passenger side to the old airport side and for that we are looking for partners from the private sector. When that is accomplished, the passenger terminal can at last be extended to cater for more traffic, because we are soon looking at 1.5 million passengers. But concentrating on finishing the plans for Entebbe does not mean the UCAA will lose sight of the other aerodromes under their jurisdiction and management. Kasese could be important as a gateway to Eastern Congo and Gulu the same for South Sudan. So of course there is a need to advance work. Kasese has an issue with land acquisition but that will be resolved soon we hope to expand the runway. One of the issues we however have is the lack of scheduled domestic flights. Eagle Air is flying to Arua but all the other Northern destinations they operate on demand only. In the 90s as you will recall we even had scheduled flights to Kasese and Kisoro with light aircraft from Entebbe but with good roads, traffic as shifted.
The licensing committee, when it last sat, you were there after all, granted scheduled licenses to the Kampala Aero Club and also to the Ugandan offspring of Air Kenya. They are supposed to start scheduled flights where passengers can buy a seat instead of chartering a whole plane. That will maybe add interest for tourists to fly to Murchisons two airfields at Pakuba and Bugungu and Kasese might open up Queen Elizabeth, the Rwenzori Mountains and Kibaale national parks. Demand right now seems not very stable from what we hear as a result of other factors but we hope that will stabilize soon and rise again for domestic flights. The East African Community has committed itself to really improve aviation infrastructure on the ground to promote air traffic and within this initiative I am sure we will also see new radar and navigation equipment procured and installed.
It was also learned from the same source that preliminary talks have taken place between the UCAA and companies willing to finance in full or part the expansion works at Gulu and Kasese, probably as a requirement within any tenders, as and when those will be published for bidding. Going by recent experience, it will be an almost safe bet that it might be major Chinese construction companies going for bids and financing packages and being awarded tenders, considering their pricing policy and readily available project finance from the Chinese government. Watch this space.