Health rights activists and MPs outline health budget priorities

stronPARLIAMENTstron- Parliament Wednesday rejected an explanation by the government over the grounding of operations of Air Uganda saying the Works Minister’s account does not get to the bottom of the controversies surrounding the closure of the airline.

Last week, Parliament asked the Works Minister Abraham Byandala to explain the grounding of Air Uganda amid concerns that that the closure has left Ugandans who cannot afford fares in other carriers stranded.

However, trouble started when the minister instead appeared in Parliament and delved into a litany of audits that faulted the operations of several airlines and led to the suspension of their operating licenses, contrary to what was expected of him.

Mr Byandala indicated that audits conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) into the operations of Air Uganda and other carriers unearthed safety issues.

Air Uganda, the minister said, had safety incidents not reported to CAA as demanded by the law and was not meeting the minimum requirements in their Aircraft Maintenance Organisation.

The minister also tabled incidents involving Uganda Air aircraft from crash landing to cutting distances short while airborne due to technical problems.

“The above irregularities presented a significant gap in the safety assurance process within Air Uganda. Failing to present the auditors approval and contract documents of British Air which is the maintenance service provider to Air Uganda. These cannot be tolerated by CAA on behalf of Uganda and ICAO,”Mr Byandala said.

However, Opposition Chief Whip Cecilia Ogwal, who raised the matter, rejected the Minister’s explanation, saying it had kept the House in the dark.

“Ugandans are not being told the truth. The world knows that Uganda is so strategically placed because if we were to develop our Airline, Kenya [Airways] would go down, even South Africa [Airways] would go down. We wanted the Minister to give us   a holistic analysis of what Uganda  needs to put itself back on the international map as far as aviation is concerned,” Ms Ogwal shot back.

Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah later ruled that there was a miscommunication from Parliament’s clerk to the Works Minister as the Minister appeared to be responding to a question that arose from a Parliamentary committee and not the issues raised during a House plenary session last week.

Minister Byandala will present another explanation next week.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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