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Arua airport construction begins

ARUA—The upgrade of Arua Airfield to an international airport has begun and will be completed in March 2010. A Shs1.53 billion terminal building, access road and parking yard will be constructed under Phase I, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said.
In the subsequent phase, CAA also plans to expand the airfield by about 150 meters and tarmac the runway from 1.8 to 2.5 kilometers. The expansion of the total area as well as the runway will allow large passenger and cargo planes to land in Arua.

The new airport will be able to handle 70,000 people annually. Entebbe International Airport handles about 4 million passengers a year. Dr. Mukuza Rama, the Executive Director of CAA, said the upgrade would position Arua as a tourism and business hub within one year of completion.

Kasese Airfield and Soroti Flying School are also to be developed. CAA has appealed to local leaders to help secure land for the expansion. The aerodrome is planned to expand 50 meters to the east and 100 meters westwards. Five acres of land from the perimeter fence is said to be owned by the family of the late former President Idi Amin.

“We need this land urgently. We want the airport to serve as a tourism and commercial centre for East and Central Africa as well as a point for international entry and exit,” Mukuza said. Presiding over the ground breaking ceremony at the airfield on July 3, the Minister of State for Transport, Simon Ejua, said the airport will boost regional and domestic air traffic.

Arua airfield handled about 10,000 passengers and 1,730 flights in 2008. Completion of the upgrade, Ejua believes, will improve efficiency and provide more options to facilitate travel in and around the country. He challenged CAA to ensure timely delivery of the project.

drasimaku@yahoo.com

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