Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Physical Infrastructure have queried the ability of the army engineering brigade to complete the modification of the passenger terminal building at Entebbe International Airport.
The modification of the passenger terminal building is one of the projects that Uganda Civil Aviation Authority – UCAA is undertaking under the National Civil Aviation Master Plan which was launched in 2015.
It involves re-modelling the existing departure areas, conversion of the existing trunk road into a departure check-in hall, construction of a 4-storey new concession block, a new 4-lane elevated trunk road and a connection bridge to access the departures on the first floor of the existing terminal building, external, drainage, and landscaping. The project will be implemented in two phases.
In 2016, UCAA contracted M/s Seyani Brothers to implement the first phase. The first phase involved the construction of the 4-level structure, external finishes of the structure, raised access road, and the internal finishes of the departures floor.
The works in the first phase were completed in December 2020. The defect liability period ended last December. Passengers and stakeholders such as airlines and handlers are currently using the departures area.
On Friday during an oversight visit at Entebbe airport, legislators led by Soroti East MP, Moses Okia Attan and Buyamba County MP, Ssemwanga Gyaviira queried the capacity of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces – UPDF engineering brigade to undertake the second phase of the project.
Bugabula County MP, Henry Maurice Kibalya says the army can get contracts for schools, roads and hospitals, but not at an international airport which has several international requirements to fulfill.
However, Fred Bamwesigye, the Director General of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority-UCAA assured MPs that the construction works supervising consultant is working closely with the army to ensure the works are up to standard. Messrs. Ssentoogo and Partners, Architects and Planning Consultants were appointed to facilitate implementation of the construction works.
The UPDF engineering brigade started working on the passenger terminal building extension project on April 9 and is expected to complete it within a year. Pending works include; internal and external finishes on the arrivals level and setting up canopies on pathways to shield passengers from rain and sunshine as they depart or arrive at the airport.
Bamwesigye explained that the army was contracted to do the second phase of the project as a condition for getting shillings 15 billion from government. This is because the project was being financed by locally generated funds which however were affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. As a result, the project had stalled for close to two years due to lack of funding.
He however says UCAA benefited from a subvention from the ministry of finance last October when it received shillings 15 billion to complete the modification of the passenger terminal building.
Bamwesigye says the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said however the work would be completed by the UPDF engineering brigade.
The shillings 15 billion was part of the shillings 76 billion government planned to spend to set up and operate a centre for mandatory COVID-19 testing for all incoming passengers at Entebbe Airport.
The amount was arrived at during meetings held by the Inter-ministerial committee for COVID-19. The committee is chaired by Premier Nabbanja.
The rest of the money was to be spent on setting up and equipping a laboratory, sample collection, buying consumables such as reagents and paying personnel.
The exercise involved officials from the army, ministry of health, UCAA, works, finance, foreign affairs, immigration among others.
It was agreed that the UPDF engineering brigade would set up prefabricated structures at the air side for sample collection and also shelters and canopies on the walkways from exit of the arrivals section to the entrance of the extended passenger terminal building to shield them from rain and sunshine. The army completed the works in October and mandatory testing commenced end of the same month. Mandatory testing was stopped in February this year.
However, this is not the first time the project has come under scrutiny. Last month, the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enteprises-COSASE poked holes in the contract awarded in the first phase.
It noted that the government awarded Seyani Brothers the contract without due diligence and that the project was given a new design which included building one structure instead of two buildings to separate domestic and international traffic. The new design or re-scoped project would increase the cost by Shillings 6.4 billion from Shillings 42.69 billion.
The committee concluded that UCAA should consult all stakeholders and undertake comprehensive needs assessment at planning and tendering stage to avoid variations for future projects.