UGANDA (eTN) – Complaints voiced during the week by international and local air operators, coming together under the platform of the “air operators committee,” about standards and services rendered by the Civil Aviation Authority in regard of the running of Entebbe International Airport have brought about a swift reaction by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in part answering issues raised but in part also sidestepping areas of concern.
In a statement given by the CAA’s Chief Executive, Dr. Rama Makuza, it was pointed out that the authority has long-standing plans to begin the implementation of and additional work on its infrastructure master plan, based on which the expansion, modernization, and selective refurbishments at the international airport are to be carried out. Such work, it was mentioned, will stretch over a period of 5 years, during which major improvements and expansion will be accomplished, which will include moving the present cargo section next to the passenger terminal to a new location along the airport’s second taxiway and runway, with sufficient space for several cargo aircraft to be handled at once, tripling the present capacity.
With the expected development of maintenance facilities, links to such new ventures will also be created with an expansion of new taxiways, which will also benefit the United Nations African Logistics Base located at and beyond the old airport for ease of access.
This will then also facilitate the doubling of the present passenger terminal space, where literally all of the vacated office spaces, availed when the Civil Aviation Authority some years ago moved to their own headquarters at the airport’s perimeter, have since been taken up, allowing for more check-in space, now getting crowded during peak departure hours.
It is understood that the air operators remain in close contact with officials of the Civil Aviation Authority and the management of the international airport to also determine better ways of access for passengers, in particular when it rains, to the main terminal, where vehicles still cannot drop off passengers unlike at the airports in Nairobi and Kigali. This inconveniences passengers greatly, leads to often lengthy queues and almighty rushes to get to the terminal in time for a flight, but it is understood that “security concerns” are responsible for this arrangement, while at the same time trolleys, porters, and cover against rain during peak arrival and departure times are simply insufficient.
Another area of concern and constant complaints are the regular failures of the airport parking payment systems, which no longer accept notes but only 500 shilling coins, and in particular at night, when vehicles wish to exit and insert their tickets, then finding they have no change in coins, the machines retain the tickets as the transaction cannot be aborted, leaving at times all 6 of the payment automats blocked for use resulting in extortionist surcharges at the exit gate. Again, the CAA has not managed to compel the concessionaire at this time to “fix this,” leading to further frustrations by airport users.
All in all, the CAA has their work cut out, especially considering that Kigali is about to embark on the construction of an entirely new airport further outside the capital, while Nairobi is accelerating their construction speed to facilitate both new international airlines to fly to Nairobi, as well as enable their national airline Kenya Airways to have room for their own expansion and to allow their vision to become Africa’s number one airline in the coming years to become reality.