The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority-UCDA plans to displace residents of the neighboring Kigungu village for further development and expansion of Entebbe International Airport.
The plan was disclosed by UCAA officials during an onsite visit and meeting with members of the Parliamentary Committee on Works and Infrastructure on Thursday.
UCAA Director General Fred Bamwesigye told MPs that over time people had developed and settled on land belonging to the Airport. He explained that currently, the airport was occupying 1.5 hectares but according to future projections that would put the airport to international standards, five hectares are required.
Some MPs mooted the idea of expanding the airport by buying land across the water strip in neighboring Buwaya if Kigungu proved too expensive to move the people settled there. The Airport currently has two runways but intends to develop a third one as traffic through Entebbe grows.
Bamwesigye said that discussions with the affected people were ongoing, to establish the nature of tenancy they held before a decision would be taken to value their land for compensation and relocation. However, UCDA lacked funds for compensation and is looking to the government for a solution.
Already some of the expansion works affected other government institutions belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture in the neighbourhood of the airport and a proposal by members to have them completely relocated remains a hard task.
Bamwesigye said some of them including the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre (NAGRIC) had installations that may be expensive to relocate.
The committee led by vice chairman Tony Awany (Nwoya county) had visited to assess ongoing refurbishment and expansion works whose speed and cost some members had questioned.
The existing passenger terminal is undergoing refurbishment and modernization to suit global standards. Two extensions are also being constructed, which on completion will make the development look like one superstructure, though connected by bridges.
Entebbe Airport construction was started in 1967 during the Obote I regime before he was toppled by Idd Amin who completed it in 1972.
The works are being undertaken by the UPDF engineering brigade with support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
Engineer Herbert Ngoobi, the Chielf Aerodrome Planning engineer explained with artistic illustrations that some of the technology on the old terminal had gotten outdated and where possible it would be upgraded.
He explained that management was racing against time to have the works completed, notably looking to the Pan African Parliamentary Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) slated for early next year.
He said that among the improvements is the fact that guests and passengers now could be picked up by motorists from within the terminal as provision has been made to drive through, without parking.
Office space has also been expanded while provision for a nap and self-refreshment at a cost will also be possible. More space is also being made for service providers including shops, and restaurants among others.
The MPs also called for CAA’s attention to the development of upcountry aerodromes to facilitate inland transport and tourism, to which Bamwesigye explained five were active and the number was according to plan to increase to thirteen according to National Development Plan III.
Lillian Aber (Women – Kitgum) urged for more opportunities for local Ugandans to do business at the airport, to which management said that had been done but local businesses collapsed on arrival.
Kinkizi West MP James Kaberuka also called for preferential treatment to Uganda Airlines Ltd, the national career to which Bamwesigye said much had been accorded to UA but international rules prohibited overt preferential treatment to specific players.