Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The new substantive Director General of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority Fred Bamwesigye, has pledged to restore public confidence in Uganda’s aviation industry.
Bamwesigye took charge at UCAA yesterday, after the Minister for Works and Transport, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala appointed him as the substantive Director-General of UCAA on September 28.
Bamwesigye’s appointment letter authored on September 28, indicated that he would take office effective October 1. He will serve a period of three years. During his tenure, Bamwesigye will among others earn a consolidated salary of 30.2 million Shillings, be entitled to annual leave of 36 working days, have a chauffeured official vehicle and a support car plus a business class air ticket for foreign travels while on official duty.
At the time of his appointment, Bamwesigye was the acting Director-General and the substantive Deputy Director-General.
He replaces Dr David Mpango Kakuba, who retired as Director-General in June last year.
The UCAA board of directors, chaired by retired Chief Justice Steven Kavuma, advertised to fill the position in March this year. Twenty-one people including Bamwesigye applied. Of these, seven were shortlisted and interviewed by the board on May 14. The board thereafter recommended to the works minister three names. These were Bamwesigye, Olive Birungi Lumonya and Tom David Wasswa. The minister selected Bamwesigye.
Now, Bamwesigye told our reporter that he is “very very happy that he got the job,” although at a difficult time when the aviation industry, just like tourism and other sectors have been negatively affected by COVID-19.
Entebbe International Airport handled 1.9 million passengers in 2019, and less than 500,000 last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Bamwesigye noted that when Entebbe Airport was partially shutdown for seven months in 2020, UCAA was collecting about shillings one billion in revenue. Even though the airport resumed commercial passenger flights last October, Bamwesigye says the regulator is collecting about shillings 7 billion per month. Before the advent of COVID-19, UCAA used to collect revenue in the range of shillings 28 billion and 30 billion per month.
As a result, Bamwesigye says among the key things, he will have to rejuvenate the aviation sector through boosting public confidence and lobbying for increased funding to fast track capital developments such as the upgrade and expansion of Entebbe Airport among others.
He says UCAA will devise strategies and liaise with local and foreign players in aviation, tourism, hospitality among others to restore confidence among travelers that Uganda is safe and secure amidst the COVID-19 disruptions.
“We have to offer something special to boost export cargo, attract more passengers and airlines to pass through Entebbe and other aerodromes because we are currently handling about 25 percent of the passengers that we used to have before the advent of COVID-19,” Bamwesigye says.
He also pledges to ensure the completion of the 1.1 trillion shillings Entebbe International Airport upgrade and expansion project.
The expansion project is driven by the rising number of passengers handled at the airport and also the need to improve customer experience, safety, security, and compliance with regulations. The project entails the construction of a new cargo center and passenger terminal building, rehabilitation works for aprons and runways.
He says UCAA needs shillings 400 billion annually to maintain and enhance safety and security measures at Entebbe Airport and also facilitate capital developments such as upgrading and maintaining the other 13 aerodromes such as Gulu and Arua.
“I am convinced that we will get more funds because the aviation sector is on its knees,” the new CAA boss says. “In the past, we were able to use locally generated revenue to do capital development projects.”