Fifty-six percent of the work on the construction of Hoima International Airport has so far been completed since the project started in 2018 at Kabaale Village in Kabaale Sub-county, Hoima District.
Work on the airport being constructed to facilitate transport of equipment for the construction of the oil refinery at Kabaale village would have by now progressed to 59 percent had it not been the interruption caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 in Uganda, according to Mr Amos Muriisa, the project publicist.
The interruption now pushes the completion of the project to around February 2023, Mr Muriisa says, revealing that completion of the 3.5km runway currently stands at almost 90 percent. He is optimistic that freight aircrafts will be landing on the airport delivering equipment for the construction of the oil refinery by the end of this year.
The project contractor, SBC Uganda Limited-a joint venture company between UK’s Colas Limited and Shikun and Binui namely SBI International Holdings AG is now constructing the cargo terminal building and the rescue fire fighting system at the airport.
However, work on building the control tower has not yet begun because the contractors are yet to receive its design. Also, construction of accommodation for airport operators has not yet started. But Mr Muriisa says the absence of these infrastructures cannot stop cargo planes from landing on the airport.
The Hoima District Chairman, Kadir Kirungi, enumerates the value of the airport even at this time when construction is still underway. He cites employment in diversity including female excavator operators, undergoing various trainings, improved farmer income through increased local foodstuff sales due to increased demand for it by the airport workers.
However, he is cynical that with the current rush to growing sugarcane in Hoima, there might be a deficit of food supply to the high number of employees at the airport.
“I fear that given the rate at which farmers are opting for sugarcane growing, Hoima may in the near future fail to feed the not less than 1,000 employees at the airport who are currently being supplied with food from Hoima district only”.
Construction of Hoima International Airport started in April 2018 financed by the government of Uganda with a $309m (approximately Shs1.1t) loan secured from Standard Chartered Bank and UK Export Finance for the first phase of the project.