MPs grill minister over Uganda airlines board

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Legislators have demanded that Government complies with a Parliament resolution and present a list of the Board of Directors of Uganda Airlines for scrutiny and approval.

The lawmakers questioned the competencies of those appointed to the board, saying that the process was not transparent. The matter was raised by Hon. Elijah Okupa (FDC, Kasilo County) during plenary sitting on 18 July 2019.

Parliament passed a supplementary expenditure schedule No. 2 for financial year 2018/2019, which included Shs280b to be paid for the first batch of six Bombardier CRJ900 aircrafts to be used by the national carrier. 

The budget was passed with resolutions among which included; presentation of the Board of Directors of the airlines before the relevant committee for scrutiny and subsequent approval.

Okupa noted that whilst the board has already been appointed, the list has not yet been presented to the relevant Parliamentary committee.

“It has come to our knowledge that the Minister has not followed a Parliamentary resolution. We have a board which has not been approved as directed by this House,” said Okupa.

He added that contrary to an assurance from government that Uganda Airlines would start operations by 1 July 2019, the aircrafts are still grounded.

“To-date, the aircrafts are still parked in Entebbe. We had the right opportunity to promote the airlines to fly Uganda Cranes to Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations this month, but this did not happen,” said Okupa.

Hon. Joseph Ssewungu (DP, Kalungu East) wondered if the national carrier has the required office space. 

“The information we have is that there are some people sitting in Eagle air offices in Entebbe which is defunct. Can the minister tell us where the offices of Uganda airlines are,” said Ssewungu.

Hon. Odonga Otto (FDC, Aruu County) accused government of appointing inexperienced people to serve in the Board.

“One of the people who flew Uganda airlines when it was started has not been appointed. Instead we have people who are not experienced in that area at all,” said Odonga Otto.

The Minister of Works and Transport, Hon. Monica Ntege Azuba confirmed that the board has been appointed and promised that the list will be presented before the committee.

“Cabinet went through a process, it took about three weeks to approve the board. The issue of coming to the committee is unprecedented but it is not too late,” said she said.

She also refuted allegations that those appointed to the Board are not experienced.

“I want to inform members that among the Board is an aviator who was part of the task force so it is not true that the board members are incompetent,” said Ntege Azuba.

She further clarified that Uganda airlines offices are currently located at the defunct Eagle air and that the office space is being rented.

Azuba said the initial start of operations was meant for July but “we are still working on the air operators certificate”.

She says that the start of commercial operations is expected after 28 July 2019 after CAA concludes the process of operating certificates.

Minister Azuba says the two aircrafts at Entebbe are flying but not commercially.

“These are being used for tests and other training like evacuations”.

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