The commitment by the East African Community (EAC) member states to sign a protocol to harmonize service delivery mechanisms in the aviation industry aimed at improving standards is taking longer than expected.
This was observed during the recently concluded East African Consultative meeting on the facilitation of air transport that was held in Entebbe.
Earlier, the EAC member states agreed to come together and harmonize activities in the local aviation industry with the intention of improving service delivery to match the international standards, enhance security and strengthen the spirit of integration through ratification of a protocol on the establishment of the East African Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency after formulation of a law.
However, during the consultative meeting, it was observed that there are delays in ratification of the protocol.
David Nsubuga, a veterinary officer at Entebbe International Airport,attributed the delay by bureaucrats in governments to harmonize aviation laws.
“You cannot harmonize something that is not legally domesticated. There should be a time frame for ratification and it has taken too much time,” Nsubuga said.
However, some experts argue that some of the delays are caused by partner states that have failed to prioritize the matter.
The outgoing chairman of the Consultative Meeting, Emmanuel Butera from Rwanda, said however that the harmonization is already accomplished since the heads of state signed the protocol.
According to Butera, currently what is lacking is the implementation among other issues.
The pending issues in the EAC include clearance of passengers following the introduction of the machine-readable-passports, document fraud, drug and human trafficking, new forms of terrorism against civil aviation, pilferage and spread of diseases through use of air transport.
The director of transport at the Ministry of Transport, Uganda, Geoffrey Wandera said while they have been conducting meetings and always come up with commendable recommendations, the rate of implementation is wanting.
In a speech read for him by Wandera, the State Minister for Transport, Stephen Chebrot’s noted that Kenya and Rwanda are the only member states that have gone a step towards harmonizing the standards in clearance of passengers.
“I commend Kenya and Rwanda for having faster clearance of their nationals. Other partner states are encouraged to emulate them,” the speech reads in apart.
He said cargo clearance has also made progress with clients now able to get their goods within 24 hours after arrival at the airport.
Chebrot also called for expeditious deliberation on the pending matters, come up with recommendations, which are to be forwarded to member aviation institutions.
“Civil aviation is one of the most dynamic, competitive and highly regulated industries. It is an industry where standards cannot be comprised on the basis of geographical location, level of economic development or even differing backgrounds,” Wandera added.
The East African facilitation meeting is comprised of delegates from all the EAC member states that include Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda.