The Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Katumba Wamala has defended Government’s move to upgrade and expand Entebbe International Airport.
Katumba who was appearing before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) on Tuesday, said that the decision to expand the airport was the right call because Uganda’s facilities at the airport were not supporting the growth of the aviation sector to compete with the world in terms of trade and travel. Katumba was appearing along with officials from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA).
“Right now, most of our fresh foods are exported through Nairobi. Our products are taken across the border repackaged and rebranded made in Kenya because our facility was not meeting international standards. The size of the airport wasn’t also sufficient enough to be taking on some of the aircrafts. And that is one of the reasons it was important that we expand the airport and bring it to international standards,” Gen Katumba said. Jomo Kenyatta International airport in Kenya apparently receives more than 30 cargo aircrafts due to its sizable airport that meets international standards.
COSASE has been investigating the circumstances under which Ministry of Works gave a US$200m airport expansion contract to China Communication and Construction Company (CCCC) without following the prescribed Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) regulations.
The committee Chairperson, Hon Joel Ssenyonyi faulted UCAA officials for awarding the contract to CCCC without due diligence. He noted that the Chinese firm acquired a Certificate of Registration from PPDA in January 2022, nearly 10 years after the contract was signed. The Works Ministry says that the CCCC acquired the contract through bilateral relations. “
You entered a contract with CCCC, but there are documents you were required to get from them before signing a contract whether it is through a bilateral relation. Even if you are contracting a company based on bilateral relations, you must ensure that it is a registered company,” Ssenyonyi said.