Parliament has approved a loan authorising Government to borrow US$ 200m from the Export – Import Bank of China to finance Phase 1 of the upgrade and expansion of Entebbe International Airport.
The Chairperson of the Committee on National Economy, Hon. Xavier Kyooma, who presented the report to the House said that the loan request recommends the promotion of excellent service at the airport through provision of competitive infrastructure and facilities.
Legislators on both sides of the political divide in debating the report supported the loan request and called for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to generate its own funds for the construction, maintenance and expansion of the airport.
Jinja West Member of Parliament, Hon. Moses Balyeku, supported the request but said that the government should avoid borrowing from foreign banks and use local sources.
“Instead of borrowing from the EXIM Bank, we should get funding for the expansion from the NSSF which had a lot of money for development,” he said.
Hon. Balyeku added that there is need to have a new airport as the current one is too small to handle the increasing traffic.
Hon. Hussein Kyanjo (JEEMA, Makindye West) was concerned that money, which has been borrowed in the past, has not been used on time leading to a burden on the taxpayers.
“I beg that once the money is availed, work should start immediately so that Ugandans do not feel the burden,” Hon. Kyanjo urged.
The Leader of the Opposition, Rt. Hon. Wafula Oguttu, said that a modern airport is needed but added that there is need to have three other additional airports.
“We need an assurance that the government will build more airports to serve the Entebbe International Airport. There is also need to have an assurance that the ground and aircraft handling services shall be handed back to the CAA,” he said.
The Minister of Works, Hon. John Byabagambi, agreed with the Members that there is need to make upgrades to the airport and all the other existing facilities. He also explained that other airports around the country would be upgraded.
The Minister of State for Finance, Hon. David Bahati, said that US$200 million will finance Phase 1 while US$125 million for Phase 2 will be availed when the financing agreements are agreed.
Phase I will involve the construction of a new passenger terminal, cargo terminal and a multi-storey car park. Other areas will include the widening of the existing runway, building of aprons and improvement of the navigation aids.