By Frank Asiimwe Mulekwa
I have been following comments from members of the public including those from official oversight agencies about the performance of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Entebbe International Airport, and feel that some of the comments and conclusions are not only unfair but also reckless.
I believe that when one is conducting investigations into any matter, they should avoid conducting themselves as the prosecutor and the judge in the same case at the same time. It is also prudent to only make conclusions based on a thorough consideration of responses to particular issues raised by witnesses other than just highlighting generalized observations, which could be of negative impact to the image of the country and perceptions of those planning to visit that country.
A quick analysis of figures for CAA Uganda reveals interesting facts; Entebbe International Airport recorded a total of 100,455 international passengers in October 2021 (45,799 Arrivals and 54,656 Departures), an average of 3,240 passengers per day. This is the biggest number of passengers recorded at the airport in a month since resumption of commercial passenger operations in October 2020.
Available date shows that Entebbe airport recorded 79,192 passengers in September (36,971 arrivals and 42,221 departures), 71,360 passengers in August (33,941 Arrivals and 37,419 Departures), 52,731 in July (23,594 Arrivals and 29.137 Departures), 69,346 in June (29,209 Arrivals and 40,137 Departures). The Airport recorded 71,307 passengers in May (35,012 Arrivals and 36,295 Departures), 80,785 in April (35163 Arrivals and 45,622 Departures), 71,904 in March, 57,988 in February and 53,504 in January 2021.
Incidentally, these figures exclude transit passengers.
On the side of cargo, the airport recorded 5,371 metric tonnes of cargo in October 2021 (2,243 Imports and 3,128 Exports).
This surge in traffic in October is attributed to a number of factors including enhanced vaccination across the globe, commencement of flights in and out of Entebbe by new operators such as Airlink to South Africa and Air Arabia to Sharjah, commencement of Uganda Airlines flights to Dubai, removal of Uganda from the UK red list in early October, and easing of travel restrictions on Ugandans to Dubai among others.
It is also important to note that in spite of the increased passenger traffic, for obvious reasons, the average of 3,240 passengers per day in October 2021 is still far below the average of about 5,000 passengers per day in 2019 before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is therefore not true that CAA Uganda whose mandate is to provide support and promote the safe, secure, efficient and regular use and development of civil aviation services within Uganda has been mismanaged as some individuals allege in the media.
The lesson here is; before you make any statement for political capital, consider the magnitude of the damage lest it affect your own self like the proverbial worms that killed their host in pursuit of feeding as if they could survive without the host. Their fate was sealed once the host died. Therefore, you may not like the government in power but please do not hate your own country.
It is encouraging, however, that despite such unfortunate comments, business people, tourists and others still find Uganda an attractive country to visit. Uganda’s aviation industry is the nucleus of the country’s development, and is a pivotal link between Uganda and other countries.
Patriotism is paramount.
The author is the NRM publicist, Kampala District