Uganda Civil Aviation Authority attempts to rescue tattered reputation
The heat is clearly on now for the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) as they succumbed to public pressure and felt the urgent need to publish a full-page advert in the local media, attempting to
The heat is clearly on now for the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) as they succumbed to public pressure and felt the urgent need to publish a full-page advert in the local media, attempting to whitewash themselves from their actions a month ago which financially destroyed two airlines already with others are teetering on the brink.
The statement issued and the relevant letters seen directed to the operators of a fundamentally different nature, are almost apologetic and trying to bare what must be rotten teeth with a tendency to intimidate and wield the proverbial stick of “Don’t you dare talk more in public.” It is obvious that the public sentiments coming their way stunned the regulators, leaving them to ponder for weeks what to do about it and how best to absolve themselves from the mess they caused, but those who have seen their publication already all agreed that it is too late and too little to rescue their tattered reputation.
The authority has not answered urgent questions if the cited Civil Aviation Regulations of 2014 have been backed up by a statutory instrument, and if so on exactly what date that instrument was signed and then gazetted as allegations linger that the regulations were not as yet legal when the CAA quoted them in their letter. Insider information about this crucial bit in the chain of events suggests that it was only last week on July 11 that the CAA had finally secured the statutory instrument, weeks after they purported that those regulations were “the law.”
Industry sources continue to express their sentiments that they have lost all faith and trust in the ability of the Ugandan CAA to be a fair administrator, regulator, and arbitrator and several left no doubt that they want to see heads roll, over bringing the country’s aviation industry to its knees over their own failures. The sentiments of one was broadly backed by those spoken to, with enough examples provided to fill a novel.
Questions are also raised as to the mandate of the CAA and if it is embedded in their mission to destroy airlines and wipe out millions of US dollars in assets besides smearing their reputation just to save their own skins. Said one aviator in connection with the latest developments: “Someone is misleading the public, and I can assure you it is not the affected airlines. I have a contact in Montreal at ICAO and his off-the-record opinion was that the Ugandan CAA looked for a way out of what was coming their way and did not care about collateral damage.” The source then went on to state: “I admire Tim Cooper for going on record with you. I can only say that I expect the retribution by the CAA, over bruised egos and generally for the sort of individuals we are dealing with there, will be quite brutal against those whom they can finger as leaking details to the media and standing up to them. The next time those people have to appear before them, or have applications and permits to deal with, they will see. We are dealing with small people with even smaller minds. These people perceive themselves as god’s gift to aviation and claim infallibility, but the fact is, they are not infallible. The bad thing is we have dealt with this sort of dictatorship for years and no one dared to stand up and speak out, perhaps giving them the feeling they are invincible. But now, after all this, the spirit of cooperation has been completely destroyed by the CAA. From here on we will have vomit in our mouths when we have to talk to them.”
No prior consultations had taken place before the UCAA instituted their action on June 17, nor were the affected operators given the opportunity to appeal the decision which left the directive in the domain of an arbitrary measure by regulatory staff un-adjudicated, unchecked, and without reprieve, something which in legal circles may be called a travesty of justice where a prosecutor also turns jury, judge, and executioner.
Some readers in fact may still recall the way the regulators fell over themselves to help and facilitate failed Victoria International Airlines, a venture in which the Ugandan taxpayers lost a lot of money when within weeks the airline folded. This has according to over a dozen readers raised the added spectrum of the alleged sympathy towards the owners and backers of VIA in 2007 and the alleged antipathy against the owners of Air Uganda, a company which has helped swell the UCAA’s coffers since then to the tune of tens of millions of US dollars unlike VIA which to this day owes fees and charges, never to be recovered as the owners did a runner. Considering how fast VIA was given their AOC and given for how long the regulators have dragged out the process of handing U7 their AOC back, not too farfetched an explanation, and this is not even touching on the conspiracy theories feedback received here since the 18th of June. This is bolstered by reports that at least one if not two operators based at Entebbe International Airport have continued to operate flights beyond Uganda’s borders, which if true would only add to the weight of the allegations against the UCAA being partial, arbitrary and discriminatory and having a hidden agenda against some operators while favoring others.
The sad fact is that once all this is over that the CAA may no longer have a viable local aviation industry worth talking about to preside over, having singlehandedly emasculated the sector. Then finally they might be able to enjoy the peace, quiet, and sanctity of their glass and marble tower in Entebbe without having to deal with the nuisance of airlines, except those few which may have survived the financial implosion caused to them by the Uganda CAA’s action of June 17.
Harsh words? Believe me, if you would hear what the aviators have to say you would rightly blush, but their rage is really not fit to be repeated here, although, just to open the curtain for that stage a tiny little, be sure that should an abyss open up in Entebbe and swallow the entire UCAA building, there would be few tears shed in Kajjansi or among the Entebbe-based air operators, at least those which are observing the grounding orders for international flights