The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) plans to redesign and develop Gulu airport to international standards to boost its capacity to exploit the existing regional markets.
The process, divided into short, medium and long term plans begun in March this year with the award of contract for consultancy service to Gauff Consultants to develop a master plan and engineering designs for the airport.
However, the work was delayed when Vector Management International, one of the eleven companies that lost the bid raised a complaint over the award of the contract. But the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public assets Authority (PPDA) later reviewed the tender process and cleared the aviation authority to proceed.
Ignie Igundura, the spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority says that following the clearance by the PPDA, they have awarded the 358 million shillings consultancy work to Gauff consultants. He explained that the plan is to increase the capacity of Gulu airport to become a regional airport.
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According to the standard biding document a copy of which URN has seen, the design of Gulu airport will include features comprising infrastructure to support the fire and rescue services, passenger terminal building including lighting, access roads, perimeter fence and car parks.
Other areas are basic air navigation facilities including a Control Tower Complex, airport runway, airport taxiways and apron including air field ground lighting.
In 2007, government announced plans to redevelop the airport prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting but it failed. Presently, the runway at Gulu airport has remained heavily cracked with no surface servicing over the last 52 years since it was built in 1959. Despite this, the airport is reported to be safe for small to medium aircraft.
The plan to redesign and redevelop the airport is being seen with a lot of pessimism by the town residents who have always expressed concern at the apparent neglect of the airport that is most times left surrounded by overgrown bushes.
Susan Apio, a resident of Bardege division neighboring the airport says that the neglect of the facility could explian why it registers less traffic. A few years ago, the airport could register regular flights but these have dwindled prompting Eagle Air, one of the main private airline operators in the region to close its office in Gulu.
Apio says she hopes that the redevelopment of the airport could attract increased flights, more revenue for the local population and also lower the travel rates. An official at Eagle Air told URN that presently, a flight between Gulu and Entebbe costs 3.8 million shillings due to the reduced number of passengers.