By Hanning Mbabazi
Kampala: Rukungiri Municipality Legislator Roland Kaginda Mugume tasked the Transport Minister to explain why up to now the ministry failed to deliver the remaining planes yet she had told parliament that the planes were supposed to be procured by July 1.
Mugume in a 10 July plenary also told parliament that the Canadian company that was supposed to supply the planes were already sold to a Japanese company, which fueled speculations that Uganda would lose.
State Minister for Transport Katumba Wamala defended the ministry saying there were supposed to be modalities supposed to be followed such as forming a board.
However, this sparked an angry response from Legislators such as the Koyetera District Woman MP Robinah Sentongo who wondered why the Government does not consider priorities.
The chairperson for infrastructure Kafeero Ssekitooleko pledged to summon the minister to explain; Gerald Rwemurikye asked why the government doesn’t stick to its word.
Uganda on April 23 received two passenger planes, a key step in the country’s efforts to re-launch its defunct national carrier and share in the region’s aviation business, which is dominated by Ethiopian Airlines and Kenyan Airways.
Initial plans were eventually to acquire four planes. Uganda Airlines was expected to commence commercial flights on July 1, Works and Transport Minister Monica Azuba Ntege said at the function.
President Museveni said the domestic airline would also soak up a chunk of the estimated $400 million he said Ugandans spend on international travel annually, keeping it in the economy.
“By starting an airline we are going to reduce on the foreign exchange expenditure. Ugandans will be spending money but spending it on our airline,” he said.
Ugandan travelers had long complained about high ticket costs they say stem from limited competition in a market dominated by Kenyan Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.
Ramathan Ggoobi, an economics lecturer at a university in Kampala said the revival of the airline would boost competition and likely lower costs for Ugandan travelers.