BY SARAH NALUKENGE VIA UAH FACEBOOK GROUP
“……..our Banyarwanda comrades stayed here as refugees for 34 years (1960 – 1994). We gave them all the support we could afford…………through Rwanda Airlines, Uganda is currently contributing about US$24.1M to the prosperity of the people of Rwanda.”
Museveni addressing a cabinet retreat at the Institute of Indoctrination – 26/7/2016
Uganda’s aviation industry dates to the early 1930s when the first flying boat landed around Port Bell on Lake Victoria near Kampala city. Its mission was to deliver mail – a service that had started in Kenya by Wilson Airways and proved to be a vital intercommunication tool in the region’s colonial centers. In 1947 Entebbe was identified as being suitable for Uganda’s future international airport and in 1951, a new Entebbe International Airport was inagurated by the Queen of England. Uganda Aviation Service and United Airways were set up and after independence it became a subsidiary of Uganda Development Corporation (UDC).
Following the collapse of the East African Community (EAC) in 1977, the then President Iddi Amin started the Uganda Airlines from scratch because Kenya had taken all the planes and routes. By 1978, Uganda Airlines had acquired a fleet of 15 fully owned by the government under Uganda Air Cargo. It plied the domestic, regional and international routes to London, Rome, Cologne, Cairo, Brussels and Dubai. It had been created as a strategic entity with the aim of mitigating the impact of sanctions imposed against the Iddi Amin regime and its landlocked Uganda – a task if effectively fulfilled. The 1978/79 war to oust Iddi Amin from power heavily impacted on its operations. After his overthrow its role was changed to profit making but it lacked the technical backup and capitalisation from government.
Its survival depended only on ground handling services and to a lesser extent on royalty fees from third party carriers for designated routes. The ground handling services that covered air cargo, passengers and aircraft handling operations generated 65% of the revenue. Under the guise of privatisation, in 1994, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) by an act of parliament. In mid 1990s, Museveni awarded the ground handling services to his in-law and permanent Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kuteesa. Since then ground handling services for Entebbe Airport is handled by Kutesa’s private company called Entebbe Handling Servicesa (ENHAS). With loss of its vital source of revenue in form of ground handling services, Uganda Airlines which had accumulated a debt of US$ 6M was liquidated in 2001.
By destroying Uganda Airlines, Museveni was extending his wider scheme of destroying whatever had been started by past regimes which he accuses of mismanaging Uganda. More so, he was trying to economically disable those Ugandans more especially those hailing from those regions he considered were politically linked to the past regimes that he had fought and replaced. After over two decades since the death of Uganda Airlines, last month Museveni told his cabinet that lack of a national airline was “a big shame” before criticizing Kenya, Ethiopia, and South African “brothers” for ditching the comradeship and instead opting to exploit Ugandans. He promised to set up a national airline – Uganda Airlines Corporation.
Will Rwanda afford to loose the US$24.1M contribution from Uganda through its Rwanda Airways? An uneducated military dictator in Iddi Amin who faced sanctions managed to build a booming national airline and an educated military dictator in Museveni destroys it!!!!