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Plans to Transform Arua Airport into International Hub Set in Motion


Plans to Transform Arua Airport into International Hub Set in Motion
PHOTO — The Eagle Online

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The Ministry of Works and Transport has received a directive from President Yoweri Museveni, dated November 13, 2023, to collaborate with private investor East of Eden to elevate Arua Airport to international status. This directive aligns with the government’s strategy to develop the nation’s infrastructure and bolster economic growth.

Government has entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with East of Eden (U) Ltd (EOE), a locally incorporated private company, to conduct a feasibility study for the transformation of Arua Airport into an International Airport. Under the build, operate, and transfer model, this partnership aims to modernize and expand the airport’s facilities.

Arua Airport currently ranks as the second busiest in Uganda, following Entebbe International Airport, and plays a pivotal role in regional air travel and cargo transportation.

The Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Katumba Wamala, finalized the MOU with the investor on February 28, 2024, after receiving approval from the Solicitor General. The signing ceremony, attended by key stakeholders, including officials from the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), marks a significant step towards realizing the vision for Arua Airport’s development.

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According to the terms of the MOU, the government will collaborate closely with EOE to provide essential support for the feasibility study, including access to relevant information and assistance in obtaining approvals and permits. A technical team will be formed to facilitate the study, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

President Museveni’s directive underscores the strategic importance of Arua Airport’s transformation, given its proximity to neighboring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. The envisioned international airport is poised to become a vital hub for regional trade and connectivity, facilitating economic exchanges and promoting cross-border cooperation.

Economists anticipate that upgrading Arua Airport to international standards will enhance trade relations between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly considering the significant investments in infrastructure, such as roads, to facilitate cross-border commerce.

In addition to its economic significance, Arua Airport holds strategic importance for passenger and cargo traffic between Uganda and its neighboring countries. Its location, just 19 kilometers from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and 32 kilometers from the South Sudanese border, positions it as a crucial transportation hub in the region.

While Arua Airport’s transformation takes center stage, the government is also actively pursuing other airport development projects across the country. Kabalega International Airport, situated in Hoima district, is nearing completion and is poised to become Uganda’s second international airport. This project, along with the ongoing expansion of Entebbe International Airport, underscores the government’s commitment to modernizing infrastructure and promoting economic growth.

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