Entebbe Airport $200m expansion takes shape

Dr. David Mpango

Construction in ProgressEntebbe International Airport’s Chinese-funded expansion that includes an extension of the passenger terminal, construction of a new cargo centre, and refurbishment of the airport’s two runways is 17 percent completed and $25m spent so far.

With the airport welcoming nearly 3 million visitors last year, and its current infrastructure built to accommodate an average capacity of 500,000, the need for expansion is obvious and immediate.

Aerial view of Construction

According to officials from the CAA, cargo going through Entebbe airport is estimated to be growing at a rate of 6.5% per year and this will go on for the next 17 years.

Uganda’s airport operator Civil Aviation Authority’s Acting Managing Director, Dr. David Mpango during a tour of the ongoing works at the Airport Wednesday said so far CAA was in the right direction in implementing the 20-year National Civil Aviation Master Plan.

Mpango said, “Some the work is done while more activities are ongoing.”

“Travel between Uganda and the rest of the world is expected to increase swiftly within the coming years. To strengthen Entebbe Airport’s position as one of the top junctions between Africa and the world, we need to develop our services and operations even further.”

“We (Entebbe) are in the centre of Africa, so its even viable that we can attract airplanes that want to refuel,” he added. “We are working with our friends in tourism and hotel sector because 60% of the tourists come by air.”

CAA launched the expansion project in 2015 with a scheduled completion date of 2023 for the first phase and 2033 for the whole project being done by China Communication Construction Company, the firm currently building the Kampala–Entebbe Expressway.

The project will be executed in three phases in a period of 20 years, said Vianney Luggya, CAA’s communications boss, adding that that the new cargo area that is 300 by 400 meters in size will be able to enable heavier output in the cargo business of up to 100,000 metric tons of cargo every year and also host bigger cargo jets.

The first phase of the project involves the expansion of its main runway, construction of runway-end safety area at both ends, construction of two exit taxiways, one rapid exit taxiway and a take-off bay, helicopter apron, vehicle access control road to the airport and pavement of perimeter road, he explained.

Eng. John Tusuubira Kagolo, the Director Airports and Aviation Security in CAA, said, “Entebbe Airport’s biggest strengths are short layover times, friendly staff, short distances and world-class services. We will strive to hold on to these as we expand and prepare to welcome even more traffic that we can proudly say Entebbe is a regional hub just like Nairobi. The expansion will bring up more seven parking areas for the planes.”

Earth-mover in action on the ground

Uganda’s main airport handles 59,000 tons of cargo per year as of 2016 but with the construction of the new cargo center, traffic will grow up to 100,000 tons per year.

Minister of State for Transport, Hon. Aggrey Bagiire when contacted said he was committed to what he called a critical project for the airport.

“It will improve passenger experience for non-residents and residents alike,” Bagiire said, adding that investing in quality infrastructure can make a difference to Ugandans. “We will continue to make those investments that will improve quality of life.”