Connect with us
  • MY MONEY

    Confidence In Our National Airline Is Increasing – MPs Impressed With Uganda Airlines Performance, Ready To Approve Shs25bn For Carrier’s Spare Engine…

    Published

    on

    MPs on Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure inspecting Uganda Airlines equipment

    MPs on Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure are impressed with the performance of Uganda Airlines and have promised to lobby for more Government funding to the national carrier.

    This comes after the lawmakers went on a guided tour of Uganda Airlines operations on Thursday.

    The MPs started by visiting the airline’s Kampala based office before heading to the main office in Entebbe where they interacted with staff from the carrier’s various departments.

    They also toured the self-handling yard that contains equipment for the self-handling project that is expected to start two months from now.

    The aim of the visit was for MPs to know more about the operations, performance and plans of Uganda Airlines. They also wanted to know the challenges the national carrier is facing and how better they can be addressed.

    Speaking to journalists after interfacing with Uganda Airlines Management, David Karubanga, the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure, said they had a candid discussion on the operations of the national carrier for the last three years. Uganda Airlines started commercial operations in August 2019.

    “As a Committee, we have observed that the airline is growing; Ugandans and other passengers have embraced the airline. Confidence in our national airline is increasing and as a Committee, we would like to see the airline move to a point where it can fully support itself in terms of revenue,” Karubanga said.

    He added that although COVID-19 has affected the airline’s revenues, the performance recorded so far is impressive.

    “As a Committee, we are going to call the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works and Transport to come and talk to them on the commitment in terms of funding the airline because the aviation industry is global and it has regulatory compliance issues [an airline must fulfill],” he said.

    Karubanga added that the Committee is happy with the airline’s strategic plan that will see the national carrier roll out more aircraft; mid-range aircraft for cargo and domestic flights.

    He added that the Committee supports the self-handling project as it will greatly cut the operational costs of the airline.

    “We have inspected the equipment purchased by Uganda Airlines for self-handling project This means that Uganda Airlines will save on the money it is currently spending on another service provider (DAS). It will also earn more revenue (by offering ground handling services to third party companies). They are just waiting for certification from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority.

    We are going to follow up that issue as a Committee. They should get that license as soon as possible because it will enhance their revenue as an agency of Government,” Karubanga said.

    The Committee is also happy that Uganda Airlines management has made strategic partnerships with other airlines and countries.

    “We are happy that they have resolved the challenges in leadership. We are hopeful that this airline is going to develop since the number of passengers using Uganda Airlines has increased. It started with 65,000 and in the third year, it has over 270,000 passengers.

    That’s a very big growth in terms of passengers and trust in the national carrier,” Karubanga said.

    He also revealed that Committee members got a technical explanation on why a spare engine is important. The MPs are now convinced that Uganda Airlines needs the spare engine urgently.

    “The rationale of having a spare engine is agreeable by the Committee. We support it fully because the cost of hiring one is quite high,” he said.

    Ephraim Bagenda, the Director of  Engineering and Maintenance at Uganda Airlines, told MPs that a standby spare engine is necessary because engines are changed after a period of time.

    “When you operate up to 8,000 flight hours, then the engine has to be removed and sent for performance restoration; you can call it overhaul. When you remove one engine, you need to install another to continue with the operations or else get grounded. If we don’t have a spare, we have to lease an engine from abroad while we send ours to the workshop. The one which goes to the workshop will take a minimum of 90 days to be overhauled. If you hire one, you must spend daily until the overhauled one returns.

    Leasing an engine for 90 days will cost a minimum of US$650,000 (Shs2.52bn). If you have a spare, once you remove the engine which needs to be overhauled, you put your spare; you avoid leasing. A new spare engine costs US$6.5m (Shs25.2bn). That is with a discount of 15%,” Bagenda explained.

    He added that Uganda Airlines has a total inventory of spares worth US$12m (Shs46.5bn).

    The Committee also realized that the airline has a challenge of skilled manpower especially pilots.

    “We are calling on Ugandans to undertake on those courses. If they can gain enough flight experience, the jobs are there,” Karubanga said.

    Jenifer Bamuturaki, the Uganda Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said that there are mandatory numbers of pilots the airline must have for both the Airbus and for the CRJ.

    It’s important to note that Uganda Airlines currently operates a fleet of four (4) CRJ900 and two (2) Airbus A330-800neo.

    Bamuturaki says they don’t have adequate numbers for pilots. This is after the national carrier upgraded First Officers to Captains.

    “So the manpower we need will be in the First Officers. We need about 10 of them,” she said, adding that without adequate numbers, there’s a likelihood of an aircraft being parked as the few pilots  may travel for training or may go on leave.

    “We have a few that have relocated; we didn’t only hire Ugandans but also international pilots. So, some of them have relocated back to their countries.  We are now recruiting more pilots; the board has been supportive; they have approved for us to recruit pilots,” Bamuturaki said, adding that they have also recruited more people in reservations and ticketing office.

    She added that the airline is working hard to minimize flight delays and cancellations.

     

    By Hope Kalamira

    Comments

    MY MONEY

    Corruption, Infighting Cited In Firing Of Top UETCL Bosses, Some To Face Investigation…

    Published

    on

    Mr. Kwame Ejalu, the UETCL board chairman and some of the UETCL staff

    Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) has fired the company’s top bosses.

    On 10th August 2022, Kwame Ejalu, the UETCL board chairman issued a memo to staff communicating changes which were to take immediate effect among top managers of the company.

    He stated, “The Board of Directors of the UETCL, in exercise of its mandate, has made some changes at the company’s top management level, re-engineering all its business processes therein with immediate effect.

    “This exercise is an inevitable phenomenon in the company’s life, driven by rationality of efficiency, allowing for maximisation of wanted benefits in developing a good corporate governance culture at the company in the interest of its shareholders.”

    Among the affected company bosses include; George Rwabajungu (Managing Director) who has been replace with Michael Taremwa Kananura who has been the company’s manager for finance, accounts and sales in the Acting capacity; Richard Matsiko, who has been the company’s operations and maintenance manager has been appointed as the Acting deputy Managing Director replacing Valentine Katabira; Daniel Kisira, who has been the company’s principle planning and investment officer who has been appointed in Acting capacity has the Implementation manager replacing Eng. William Nkemba; Karim Abdul Jumbo has been appointed in Acting capacity as the manager for information, communication and technology and Denis Okot has been appointed as the company’s manager in Acting capacity as the operations and maintenance manager.

    Sources at UETCL told theGrapevine that the line ministers Ruth Nakabirwa Ssentamu, the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development together with Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Investment directed Ejalu to fight corruption and internal infighting within the company to save its image.

    “Your predecessors failed in teamwork, integrity and respect for one another, which are UETCL’s core values. There were so many issues of corruption,” Anite said.

    Sources further revealed that when Ejalu started his work, a number of UETCL bosses started fighting him after he asked them how the process of land acquisition for the coming projects such as transmission lines and substations was done.

    The parliamentary committee on natural resources is also investigating the alleged corruption and infighting within the company.

    Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s Commission of Inquiry into land matters established that UETCL bosses were involved in corruption during the acquisition of land to establish projects around the country.

    In their report, the commission members recommended prosecution of the culprits.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

    Comments

    Continue Reading

    MY MONEY

    Dott Services In Trouble As DRC Officials Confiscate Road Construction Equipment; Tshisekedi’s Men Sabotage Shs.243.7bn Deal…

    Published

    on

    Presidents Museveni and his DRC counterpart Tshisekedi preside over groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of roads in DR. Congo

    State minister for the East African Community Affairs James Magode Ikuya has confirmed that the government of Uganda is in high level talks with officials from President Felix Tshisekedi over the Shs243.7bn road construction deal signed with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in 2020.

    Speaking to theGrapevine, Minister Magoda revealed that they have received a complaint from Dott Services Company which was contracted to construct roads from Kasindi-Beni, Kasindi-Butembo Axis and Bunagana-Rutshuru-Goma road projects.

    “You know when you’re talking to people, especially brothers, you have to use soft means, we are also using soft means to talk to our friends from Kishasha to do what was agreed in the agreement signed by our principles,” Ikuya said.

    Vincent Waiswa Bagiire, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that a team of officials from DRC were recently in Kampala for talks on how the agreement can be fulfilled and pleaded to Ugandans to be calm.

    He added that the Ugandan ambassador to DRC is also following the matter and very soon, it will be sorted out.

    Sources in Dott Services Limited revealed to theGrapevine that officials from DRC tax collecting body confiscated their equipment which included; excavators, tractors, rollers, cement and others on grounds that the company didn’t pay taxes to the DRC government.

    Sources in the Attorney General’s chambers also told theGrapevine that it was clear in the agreement signed by both principles and line ministers that Uganda will not pay taxes for the equipment and other material goods which will be used in the construction of the roads.

    In 2021, president Museveni and Tshisekedi made a groundbreaking ceremony at  Mpondwe on the border of both countries.

    Museveni pleaded to natives in both countries to welcome the development because it was going to ease trade among them and the entire East African countries.

    Sources revealed that president Museveni was more interested in the road construction and it was the very reason why he deployed UPDF to work with DRC forces to force the deadly ADF rebels out of DRC forests because he was very aware that their presence will frustrate the construction of the roads.

    The UPDF mountain Brigade commander Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga boasted that UPDF has slashed ADF out of their hidding camps and many of them are now fugitives.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

    Comments

    Continue Reading

    MY MONEY

    Court Of Appeal Cancels High Court Order Directing NSSF To Refund Shs. 14 billion To UTL…

    Published

    on

    NSSF Managing Director Richard Byaruhanga

    Court of Appeal has cancelled an order of the High Court directing National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to return Shs. 14 billion of the 10% employer contribution for over 900 employees of Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL).

    In 2015, Uganda Telecom (UTL) top management and NSSF were sued by UTL employees as they tried to scheme and get back retirement benefits of 1,986 employees from NSSF.

    In a February 6th letter to UTL, then managing director Ali Amir and the then NSSF deputy managing director Geraldine Ssali indicated that the Workers Fund was moving to return an unspecified amount of money to the workers, but without the knowledge of the beneficiaries.

    The letter explained that the first batch, according to UTL records, was covered for 16 years regarding the matter on hand. The number, however, grew to 1,968 employees.

    The letter read in part, “UTL’s management said they had been remitting money to NSSF in error. The regulator of both NSSF and the pensions scheme Uganda Retirements Benefits Regulatory Authority (UBRA) acting boss Moses Bekabye, said the matter had been brought to their attention and a legal team was assigned to examine its contents.”

    According to Daily Monitor in 2015, prior to the writing of the letter, officials from both UTL and NSSF met on February 4th and discussed the status of the claim but the workers, some employed with UPTCL’s successor companies namely Uganda Communications Commission, Posta and Post Bank, said they had been kept in the dark about the deal.

    The Uganda Communications Employees Union, therefore, sued both the Fund and UTL in the industrial Court challenging any refund of the contributions. They secured a temporary injunction blocking any payment.

    Before the case in the industrial court could be determined, UTL filed an application for judicial review in the High Court, seeking an order to compel the fund to refund Shs. 14 billion, and obtained judgements in its favour.

    Following a ruling in May 2016, in which High Court Judge Lydia Mugambe ordered NSSF to pay the contested sum to UTL, the Fund sought permission to appeal, leading to the two parties entering a “consent to stay execution” on May 27, 2016.

    According to the consent, NSSF was to be allowed to appeal the ruling, but after depositing bank guarantees with the court to the tune of the contested sum.

    NSSF would also provide UTL with a certificate of compliance showing that the telecom company had paid up its contributions to the Fund, whose absence UTL said was precluding it from competing for public contracts.

    “When NSSF was required to issue bank guarantees and a certificate of compliance, they issued documents that were defective. This was in contravention of the agreement we had with them when they were granted the right to appeal,” Mr Andrew Kibaya, a lawyer for UTL lawyers Shonubi noted.

    This week however, three justices of the Court of Appeal who included Cheborion Barishaki, Stephen Musota and Christopher Madrama cancelled the High Court decision insisting that UTL’s application in the High Court was wrongly instituted as an application for judicial review yet it instead challenged the correctness of the Fund’s decision to collect statutory contributions from certain UTL employees.

    Speaking about the ruling, Richard Byaruhanga, the NSSF Managing Director, contended that this was a win to the UTL workers and the fund.

    He said, “We welcome the Court of Appeal’s judgement because it affirms our position that once contributions are remitted to the Fund, they belong to the employee for whom they have been paid.

    “Regarding this particular case, we are confident that as an employer, UTL errored in seeking a refund of the employer contributions on the basis of an alleged exemption.”

     

    By Kalamira Hope

    Comments

    Continue Reading

    like us

    TRENDING

    theGrapevine is a subsidiary of Newco Publications Limited, a Ugandan multimedia group.
    We keep you posted on the latest from Uganda and the World. COPYRIGHT © 2022
    P.O Box 5511, Kampala - Uganda Tel: +256-752 227640 Email: info@thegrapevine.co.ug
    theGrapevine is licenced by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)