Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is to revive operations of Nakasogora airport, which was largely unused and lying idle for a number of decades.
The former air-force base under the Idi Amin regime in the 1970’s is situated in Central Uganda about 80 kilometres north of Kampala city. It was once the largest military air-force airport in Africa.
It has a runway measuring 3.1km, the third longest runway in Uganda behind the recently launched Gulu Airport and Entebbe International Airport. Gulu runway measures 3.7km the longest in the country while Entebbe is about 3.5km.
According to Eng. John Kagoro, the CAA Director Airports and Aviation Security, increasing traffic and congestion at Entebbe International Airport has led to the revival of this airport, which will serve as a military air-force base as well as an alternative airport for Uganda in case of any emergency at Entebbe International Airport.
“The reconstruction and rehabilitations will cost us about Ush28.5b ($11.4m) and it will take six months for completion of the work,” said Kagoro during the handover ceremony to the contractors Energo Projeckt of Serbia.
He said the airport has a thickness of 2.7metres compared to Entebbe Airport’s 1.7 metres and can land an airbus.
“There is increased traffic at Entebbe in case of an emergency people are told to fly to Nairobi or Kigali or even Bujumbura. This will serve as Uganda’s alternative airport to Entebbe. People will no-longer access Uganda through other countries in case of any emergency,” said Kagoro.
To reduce congestion at Entebbe airport, Kagoro said Uganda Peoples Defense Air Forces (UPDAF) will relocate to Nakasongora Airport ounce completed.
“We shall work on this airport in two phases the first phase will see rehabilitation of the runway, tax ways, the apron and the construction of the control tower.
“In the second phase, we shall handle other issues like putting runway lights, metrological facilities, navigation aides and fencing of the entire airport.
Uganda’s Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Katumba Wamala who officially flagged off the rehabilitation works said lack of enough airports in the country is hindering the development of air transport.
He said the airport will largely be run by the Uganda Peoples Defense Air-force with assistance from the Civil Aviation Authority.
“People can say that why did the government leave such a good facility to rot. But it is largely because of changes in priorities. Suppression of the different rebellion groups like Kony, ADF and others consumed a lot of money hence putting no emphasis on the rehabilitation of such a wonderful facility,” said Wamala.
Sam Turyagyenda the Air Forces Commander said the airport was neglected because of other desires and priorities. He hoped with its revival, Uganda will have completed a milestone in the air transport industry.
He added that the increase in air force fleet was another driver for the rejuvenation of Nakasongora airport.
Kagoro said CAA will hire a consultant to re-route some of the aircrafts because with the opening up of other airports, Uganda’s air space becomes congested.
Source : East African Business Week