By Daniel Otto
A new board of directors for the Uganda Airlines, the country’s national career, has been sworn in with counsel to them to ensure that they don’t repeat mistakes of the old board but act professionally, patriotically and responsibly.
The airline has been operating without a substantive board, after the old one chaired by former State Minister for Local Government, Perez Ahabwe, was fired for alleged corruption, interference, incompetence, among others.
The new board chaired by Priscilla Mirembe Serukka, a management consultant and former executive of Stromme Foundation, a Norwegian international non-governmental organization. The other members include Patrick Ocailap, deputy Secretary to the Treasury; Samson Rwahire, an engineer and academic; Ebrahim Kisoro Sadrudin, a commercial pilot; Herbert Kamuntu, a local businessman; Abdi Karim Moding, an electrical engineer and Barbara Mirembe Namagembe, a lawyer.
Speaking during the swearing in, Gen. Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works & Transport challenged the new board to put the airline back on track. He said his ministry had gone through a rigorous process to select the board including vetting by voting by cabinet, and face to face interviews so as to ensure expertise, integrity, regional and gender balance.
He said it is Government’s intention to run the airline as a profit making business. He challenged the board to ensure that the airline becomes profitable as it will not be receiving funding from government perpetually.
Although many Ugandans were initially sceptical about the revival of the airline, it’s good services, reliability and dignified carriage of the national flag in the region and internationally, had over the last two years managed to turn the scepticism by Ugandans into support, pride and goodwill. The recent debacle leading to the firing of the board and senior managers in the airline had jolted the goodwill.
A Ugandan senior aviation old- timer who The Infrastructure Magazine spoke to for a comment on the new board told us, “The fact that the board is comprised of mainly professional and technical people, and not politicians, was a good thing.” He said it is now incumbent on the new board to immediately swing into action to restore both the progress that the airline was making, and confidence of Ugandans in it.
The Airline is a government entity whose registered owners are the Ministry of Works & Transport and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
Henry Musasizi the State Minister, General Duties, in the Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development re-echoed to the new board to exhibit integrity and avoid the mistakes made by the old board.
Ramathan Goobi the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development said since the launch of the airline the cost of air travel from Uganda to anywhere in the region had come down. He said the a ticket to Nairobi – hitherto one of the most expensive routes in the world- had fallen fourfold, from US800 to just over US200.
The Infrastructure Magazine has followed the revival of the airline since 2015 when the revival was just a rumour through its constitution in 2018, to its maiden flight to Nairobi on August 28, 2019. Today the Airline has regular flights to Kenya (Nairobi and Mombasa), Tanzania (Dar es salaam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro), South Sudan (Juba), Burundi (Bujumbura), Somalia (Mogadishu), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), South Africa (Johannesburg) and United Arab Emirates (Dubai). Flights to Europe (London) and Asia (China) are expected to start this year.
Note: This article has been slightly re-edited for brevity and clarity