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IGG concerned over slow works at Kabalega International Airport

Betty Kamya with officials from SBC while at the construction site of the Kabalega international airport. URN_Photo

Hoima, (UG): The Inspector General of Government Betty Olive Kamya is concerned about the slow works at Kabalega International Airport in Hoima district.

Construction works of the USD 309 million Airport financed by Standard Chartered Bank started in April 2018.

The Airport is expected to play a crucial role as one of the key support infrastructures for the upcoming commercial oil production activities.

During her field visit to the airport on Friday Kamya was concerned about the slow pace of construction despite government injecting a lot of money into the project.

The contractor for the airport construction works, a joint venture of Israeli-British firms, Shikun & Binui International-SBI/Colas Limited has set October 26, 2023, as the handover date for the airport to the government.

However, according to IGG Kamya, during her visit, she discovered that the deadline set is not likely to be met as various crucial facilities including the control tower at the airport are yet to be fixed.

Kamya says in two weeks’ time, she will meet with the relevant stakeholders in the government to critically look at the issues delaying the completion of the airport and have the issues addressed.

Eng. Fred Kayima from the Ministry of Works and Transport said that works at the airport currently stand at 93.3%. He however explains that many key facilities at the airport are yet to be fixed.

Eng. Patrick Batumbya, a consultant working with SBC explains that crucial facilities including electricity, control tower and weather station among others meant for the completion of the airport are yet to be fixed yet the company is currently financially constrained.

Batumbya explains that currently, they need 47 million euros to fully complete the construction of the airport. He says if government fails to avail them money, this could delay the completion of the airport.

In February, the contractor halted the construction works at the airport following the government’s failure to allocate more than 126 billion Shillings to complete the remaining works.

The contractor then said that the funds were needed to complete the control tower and other operations at the airport.

During a field visit at the airport In February, State Minister for Works Fred Byamukama said that the government was investigating the contractor for allegedly exaggerating prices for some construction materials meant for the construction of the airport.

He said the contractor is suspected to be conniving with some top government officials to swindle money meant for the construction of the airport.

He added that the contractor under unclear circumstances demanded an extra 126 billion Shillings from the government to complete works at the airport yet the government had cleared two hundred sixty-four million Euros needed by the contractor for the entire project.

Byamukama said that the government was negotiating with the contractor but would consider terminating the contract if negotiations did not yield. However, in April, the contractor resumed construction works after they reached a consensus with the government.

The airport will have a fire station, apron, control tower, accommodation facilities, parallel runways, taxiway, air rescue firefighting house, power substation house, communications and navigation systems, perimeter fence, and air-ground illumination system, among other facilities.

The runway, measuring 3.5 kilometers in length and 45 meters in width, is 99 percent complete.

The cargo terminal building, limited-capacity passenger terminal building, air rescue firefighting house, power substation house, and air-ground lighting system are between 89 to 90 percent complete.

The Airport will have a capacity of accommodating four cargo planes at ago.

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