Legislators are on standby to process amendments to the Civil Aviation Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2024 to forestall hard-hitting recommendations from an international audit.
Following the tabling of the Bill for First Reading by the Minister of Works and Transport, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, directed the Committee on Physical Infrastructure to expeditiously scrutinise it and report to Parliament by Thursday, 01 February 2024.
“This is an urgent matter to do with the certification of our airport to continue receiving traffic. It is an issue that came out of an audit saying it must be done within a certain period or else they withdraw our certificate,” Tayebwa said during the plenary sitting on Tuesday, 30 January 2024.
Gen. Katumba Wamala noted that Uganda is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil Aviation, and as such, is obliged to comply with its international standards and recommended practices.
“The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) oversight audit programme conducted an audit here from 06 September to 18 September 2023. In addition, Uganda is scheduled for a universal security audit programme from 30 January to 08 February 2024,” said Katumba Wamala.
He added that the audit is intended to monitor Uganda’s compliance with ICAO safety and security related standards of safety and oversight obligations under the Convention.
The September audit, the minister revealed, identified gaps in the primary legislation of the Civil Aviation Act, which if not addressed, would expose Uganda to adverse audit findings with far reaching implications on the country.
“A finding of a significant safety concern is in effect, a notice to the world that it is not safe to travel by air to Uganda or on any registered Ugandan aircraft,” Katumba Wamala said.
There are over 13 international airline companies that operate in Uganda’s aviation industry.
The proposed Bill will amend the existing Civil Aviation Authority Act, Cap. 354 that was enacted in 1991.
The Bill seeks to bring Uganda’s aviation authority in conformity with the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, which created a specialised agency of the United Nations charged with coordinating international air travel in 1947.
The proposed government Bill, when passed, will delegate powers to inspectors to have unrestricted access to aircraft, aerodromes and aviation facilities including cargo and records of aviation organisations under the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA).
It will also enable UCAA to recognise agreements of third party States who are signatories to Article 83 bis of the Chicago Convention, in relation to transfer of functions and duties as well as prescribing additional offences.
Article 83 bis assists with the structuring of cross-border aviation transactions by providing a mechanism for ensuring safety oversight of an aircraft that is operated from another State.