By Max Patrico Ocaido
Flight Capt. Mike George Mukula has asked government to install a separate statutory body to manage Airports if the revival of Uganda Airlines is to meet its purpose.
Mukula said that if government does not create Airport Authority independent from the current aviation regulatory body- Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), then the over $300m investment in revival of the Uganda Airlines will still go to a waste.
The flamboyant former minister and veteran politician was interacting with the parliamentary committee on Physical Infrastructure that is currently charged with the responsibility to review the Civil Aviation Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
Capt Mukula who has often times highlighted the incompetence of the CAA management says that the management of airports and erodromes
must be delinked from the CAA. CAA is the government agency responsible for licensing, monitoring, and regulating civil aviation matters.
He cited examples of Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia among others which have both the regulatory body and Airport Authority which has enabled the mentioned countries to flourish in the aviation industry.
“We therefore recommend that a separate statutory body be created to manage Airports if we are to reach the improved state and capacity of Airports in Kenya,” Mukula said.
According to the Civil Aviation Act of Kenya, “the Authority shall discharge its functions without prejudice to the functions of the Kenya Airports Authority.” Mukula thinks that its equally possible to have a separate Airport Authority in Uganda along with CAA if the industry is to maximize results.
Mukula’s opinion received backlash from some members of the committee who reminded him of the president’s recent directive to stop creating more bodies and rather scrap, downsize and merge government agencies and Authorities in order to deal with “wastage of meager resources.”
However, the former Soroti Municipality MP said that, “The separation of civil aviation authority from airport authority is only in best practice.”
In response, Minister of State for Transport Aggrey Bagiire said that Mukula’s proposal to create a separate statutory body is beyond his reach as an individual and that can only be possible through an act of parliament.
Meanwhile, Mukula also called for the review of CAA board which he recommends should have an odd number for appropriate decision making and to avoid stalemates in decision making process.
Whereas the CAA prescribes a number of not less than 4 and not more than 8 board members, Mukula says that the Authority needs 8 members with proposals of having the Secretary to the Treasury, Permanent Secretary for Internal Affairs ministry and a member from the Tourism Board.
“If we have a board of about 7 people, then secretary to the treasury should be a member of the Aviation board to avoid issues of budgetary allocation. Then we shall also need a member from the tourism board who will help improve tourism in the industry and finally we need somebody from national security who will help strengthen security component. Then have other 3 competent people in regulating, air navigation then traffic controller,” he said.
Mukula also tasked the ministry of Works and Transport to come up with aviation policy and fasten the aviation tribunal which has been pending for over a decade.
He also called for need to carry out value audit of civil aviation human resource so that the Authority is run by a small, well facilitated and efficient team for better service delivery.
Currently, CAA employees about 900 employees which Mukula thinks is too huge for nothing. He also reemphasized the incompetence of CAA saying legislation alone without proper review of the Authority will bear more pain than gain.
"We, air operators go through hell. It takes you years to get a certificate of air worthiness. You may put the legislation here but on the ground it's hard to achieve what this country deserves. Can you imagine that out of about 14 or 15 operators in Uganda, most of them are Europeans because of the losses we suffer," he said.