WHY CAA UGANDA’S RECENT ICAO AWARD WAS WELL-MERITED
By Mulengera Reporters
Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) was recently honored for its prudent regulatory policies aimed at enhancing aviation security. The recognition, preceded by many others, came in form of an award bestowed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Presented during a specially-organized ceremony at ICAO headquarters in Montreal Canada where the 40th ICAO assembly session took place, the award resulted from the remarkable improvement Uganda (through UCAA) has made in addressing aviation security regulation inefficiencies and legal regulatory loopholes highlighted in previous ICAO audit reports.
Uganda’s CAA was also being recognized for its improved compliance as regards effective implementation of “applicable ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS).” This impressive performance is further corroborated by the fact that UCAA scored very convincingly at the previous ICAO Universal Security Audit Program-Continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) rankings.
Under the leadership of Director General Dr. David Mpango Kakuba, UCAA scored 81.8% against the African & Indian Ocean (AFI) states’ average score of 58%. Scaling to 81.8% is remarkable because the global average (including the developed economies of the North) is 73%. UCAA DG Kakuba says the latest ICAO award means many things including amounting to being a vote of confidence in Uganda’s aviation security systems. It’s also significant because it’s technically called “the ICAO Council President Certificate in aviation security.”
The USAP audits resulting into such recognition are done once every 5 years with the preceding period being devoted to ICAO member countries being inspected and analyzed basing on the data collected leading up to the USAP audit report being released. The audit assessment is done basing on many indicators including implementation of key core ingredients related to enhancing aviation security regulatory systems and compliance levels. The ICAO teams during that period detect deficiencies in a given member state’s aviation security systems and technically advise on areas that require improvement. As the UCAA teams and stakeholders jubilatingly reflect on the latest certification achievement, as team leader Kakuba now has his eyes on the upcoming ICAO audit assessment that will focus on aviation safety among all member countries. It’s scheduled for 21-28th July next year and it will be the first time UCAA undergoes the same in five years; the last this happened was in 2014.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
But besides ICAO-related aviation security concerns, UCAA has excelled in yet many other ways including in the area of infrastructure and automation of its services. Key on this aspect are the ongoing works aimed at expanding the infrastructure at Entebbe Airport. Aimed at complimenting efforts to realize the Uganda Vision 2040 long-term development objectives (from which UCAA derived her 20-year National Civil Aviation Master Plan running up to 2033), the ongoing infrastructure expansion works are being funded with support from the Chinese government and that of South Korea.
Dr. Kakuba says the infrastructure upgrade at Entebbe Airport is timed to coincide with rapidly growing numbers of passengers or air travelers going through the country’s only international airport. Cargo traffic has equally been growing through Entebbe. As of 1991 when CAA was being inaugurated, Entebbe Airport annually handled around 120,000 travelers but the number has since spectacularly grown.
We briefly illustrate this growth; in 2017, 1,650,000 passengers travelled through Entebbe to different international destinations. And in 2018, the figure grew to 1,840,000; implying growing confidence international travelers have in the aviation security measures UCAA has put in place. Dr. Kakuba anticipates better traveler statistics by the time the last traveler is counted for this year 2019.
To ensure best experience for the growing number of travelers, UCAA has invested in increasing the number of departure immigration counters from 14 to 20 to prevent travelers queuing for long hours. The cargo center has equally been targeted for upgrading and expansion.
Yet works are on schedule for the new cargo center complex which Kakuba is optimistic will be ready towards the end of 2021. Fuel storage capabilities at Entebbe international airport are also being boosted. The fuel hydrant and tanks being constructed will have capacity to store and keep 23m liters of fuel up from the mere 7.5m liters capacity currently in place.
The expansion and upgrade works on the passenger terminal building by Seyani Brothers Construction firm is on schedule with over 71% of the relevant works being completed. The facility is aimed at creating additional space for the comfort of the departing passengers.
All in all, the ongoing expansion works will result into Entebbe international airport growing its total annual passenger capacity to 3.5m passengers up from the current 2m capability. With funding from Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the UCAA management has also invested in the state of art operations control center (that is comprehensively automated).
The latest ICAO recognition was preceded by a number of other accolades for UCAA including being recognized by the International Trade Council that bestowed upon them “the Government Agency of the year Global Award” for the aviation category (2019). It was in recognition of the high customer care standards, staff development programs, tourism/agricultural export promotion practices through Entebbe and infrastructure improvements UCAA has been synonymous with over the years.
This International Trade Council award was picked on behalf of UCAA late last month in Chicago US by Manager Marketing & Commercial Services Davis Wasswa. The seriousness and prioritization with which the Parliament of Uganda enacted the much-needed amendments to the CAA Act has also enhanced the performance of the regulatory function and in the process causing UCAA to become more appreciated by technocrats at the Montreal-based ICAO headquarters.
ICAO now considers the Ugandan aviation practice more compliant to global aviation standards and recommended practices. The new enactments (for instance) now permit UCAA inspectors to have more deepened access to airlines’ operator premises and aerodromes without having to first seek permission from the very operators whose compliance to regulatory standards they are here to verify and enforce.