The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says the presidential directive to shutdown Entebbe International Airport is a blessing in disguise for the ongoing expansion project works.
While addressing the press at the visibly empty airport today, the CAA spokesperson, Vianney Luggya says that the authority will have more space and time to focus on fast-tracking the completion of the project by end of 2021.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 and Presidential Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s directive to suspend all in coming and out going flights at the international airport effective today, Luggya says that the authority is going to have more time to work especially on the main runway 17/35 where it has been difficult to do works while many planes are landing and taking off at the same time.
On average, Entebbe would have a total of 89 planes landing and taking off daily. However, as at 5pm only one plane, for the UN Mission had taken off.
During the suspension, only cargo and emergency flights will be allowed.
In January, the CAA acting Chief Executive Officer and Director-General, Prof David Katuba told Members of the parliamentary committee on physical infrastructure that the first phase of expanding Entebbe International Airport is currently at 60 percent level of completion.
The first phase began in 2016 and is expected to end in 2021, while the last phase will end in 2023. The entire project will cost shillings 1.1 trillion.
By end of 2019/2020, CAA is supposed to ensure works are at 100 percent completion level for the new cargo commercial centre, rehabilitation works for Apron 2, resurfacing works for runway 17/35 and its associated taxiways and reconstruction works for Apron 4.
The expansion project is driven by the rising number of passengers handled at the Airport and also the need to improve customer experience, safety, security and comply with regulations. The work to be undertaken on the major Runway 17/35 entails refurbishment as part of the first phase of the upgrade and expansion of Entebbe International Airport.
Other on-going works include; among others, the construction of a new 100,000 tonnes Cargo Centre, expansion of Aircraft Parking Aprons and refurbishment of runway 12/30 (which was completed last year). The passenger plane apron will be expanded to provide more 11 plane parking spaces.
Meanwhile, Luggya explains that on completion of the new Cargo Centre by end of this year, cargo operations will be relocated to the new facilities and the current cargo facilities being used will be razed down. The Airport currently handles an average of 70,000 tonnes every year, up from 6,600 metric tonnes in 1991.
It is projected that the cargo volumes will increase to 172,000 tonnes by 2033. However, the cargo centre was initially expected to be completed by end of 2018.
Also, a new Passenger Terminal Building connecting to the current Terminal will then be erected in the area currently used for cargo operations and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. The new passenger terminal will have the capacity to handle at least. 3.5 million people a year, up from the current capacity of 2 million travelers. The terminal will also have aero bridges.
“It will come with three more aero bridges, which will bring the total number of Aerobridges at Entebbe International Airport to 5,” added Luggya. The airport expansion project will take five years at a total cost of shillings 734 billion.
The first phase of the project started in 2016 and expected to be completed by end of next year.
Meanwhile, ministry of health spokesperson, Emmanuel Ainebyona says the ministry will deploy the health workers who have been screening in coming passengers from the airport to other parts of the country.
The ministry deployed between 50 to 100 health workers at the airport following the outbreak of the COVID -19 around the world.
pandemic broke out in Chinese city of Wuhan and it has so far killed
over 15,600 people globally. About 349,000 people have tested positive
including Ugandans. John Hopkins University data shows that close to
100,000 of these people have since recovered from the disease.