The Inspector General of Government, Betty Olive Kamya, expressed her concerns regarding the sluggish progress at Kabalega International Airport in Hoima district, Uganda.
Construction on the $309 million airport, funded by Standard Chartered Bank, commenced in April 2018.
The airport is vital for supporting upcoming commercial oil production activities.
Kamya conducted a site visit to the airport and was troubled by the slow construction progress, despite significant government investment in the project.
The airport’s construction contractor, a joint venture of Israeli-British firms, Shikun & Binui International-SBI/Colas Limited, has set October 26, 2023, as the airport’s handover date to the government.
During her visit, Kamya found that this deadline is unlikely to be met due to several essential facilities, including the control tower, remaining unfinished.
Kamya plans to meet with relevant government stakeholders in two weeks to address the issues causing delays in completing the airport.
Engineer Fred Kayima from the Ministry of Works and Transport reported that the airport’s construction progress stands at 93.3%. However, many critical facilities are still incomplete.
Engineer Patrick Batumbya, a consultant for SBC, explained that crucial facilities like electricity, the control tower, and the weather station, necessary for airport completion, remain unfinished due to financial constraints.
Batumbya noted that they currently require 47 million euros to complete the airport’s construction fully. He warned that without government funding, this could further delay the project.
In February, the construction was halted as the contractor sought over 126 billion Ugandan Shillings to complete remaining works, particularly the control tower and other operations.
In the same month, State Minister for Works Fred Byamukama expressed concerns that the contractor might be inflating prices for construction materials and potentially collaborating with government officials to misappropriate funds allocated for the airport.
Byamukama revealed that negotiations with the contractor were ongoing, and termination of the contract was under consideration if an agreement could not be reached. Construction, however, resumed in April after reaching a consensus.
The airport will include essential facilities such as 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.
The 3.5-kilometer runway is 99 percent complete, and other structures like 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.
Kabalega International Airport is designed to accommodate up to four cargo planes simultaneously.