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‘Mukula wants to operate an airline like a taxi’

Business

‘Mukula wants to operate an airline like a taxi’

CAA stopped his company after it killed all passengers in an accident at Abayita

Captain Mike Mukula

Captain Mike Mukula

Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has delivered what appears to be silencing blows to Capt. Mike Mukula who accused them of bias, incompetence and frustrating the development of aviation in the country.

Mukula had told Ugandans in a news conference on August 24, 2016 that CAA had frustrated the operations of a number of locally-owned companies through red-tape as well as denying them licenses.

But in a detailed and documented response to Mukula, the aviation industry regulator has denied sabotage and instead said their actions, particularly regarding Mukula’s attempts to operate air transport services in several instances were guided by the pursuit of international requirements of safety and security.

In a news conference held in Kampala this week, senior officials of CAA revealed that Mukula had on several occasions failed to meet basic well-laid down standards for all aviation industry players.

The Aviation experts have instead asked Capt. Mukula to come clean about his shortcomings and stop lying about their management of the industry which they say has earned them international recognition as the best in East Africa by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which regulates civil aviation across the globe.

Engineer John Kagoro Tusuubira, the Director of Airports and Aviation Security said that the Uganda CAA is bound by international standards set by ICAO and cannot bend them to meet Mukula’s wishes or Uganda’s plans for the sake of enabling local entrepreneurs start unviable and unsafe air transport ventures in the name of developing the aviation industry.

“We can’t put our nation at risk by issuing licenses to people who don’t meet standards, by violating ICAO procedures we risk to be put on Embargo,”said Kagoro.

Kagoro further explained that for any company to be issued with an Air Operator License, It has to present proof of ownership/lease of an aircraft. Mukula had alleged that several companies in which he had interest had been frustrated to operate by being denied licences such as to operate domestic and international flights as well as training services.

But the Aviation regulators say that Mukula never met well laid down requirements including proof of ownership/lease of an aircraft. CAA say that in 2000 when Mukula, through his Air Uganda International Ltd applied for an Air Service License to operate International and Regional services, in Partnership with Air Namibia, he was required to present proof of ownership of an aircraft. Mukula failed to provide proof of ownership of an aircraft.

“Air Namibia did not provide the requisite aircraft documents to determine which of the two companies would be in full control of the aircraft and its operations,”says CAA.

Mukula’s accident-prone Speedbird crumbles

In attacking CAA, Mukula appears to have underestimated the importance travelers and players attach to safety. The fact that one of his companies was involved in two accidents, one fetal and left all passengers dead would have been enough to silence an operator.

In 1994 and in 1995 Mukula’s Speedbird Aviation Services Ltd, operating Kenyan registered aircrafts got involved in accidents. In one incident at Kidepo, CAA says the aircraft was substantially damaged although no one was hurt. But in another accident, overloading of an aircraft caused Speedbird’s aircraft to crash at Abayita Ababiri along Entebbe road and killed all six people on board.

Mukula’s allegations that CAA has frustrated not only him but other players have met similar uncompromising responses from the aviation industry regulator.

Mukula cited an application by Pearl Air Services Ltd (Owned by Capt. Francis Babu) as one of the other local investors who have been allegedly frustrated.

But CAA says: “Pearl Air Services was granted a conditional air service license in 2006 subject to the company providing evidence of acquisition of the aircraft to be operated and proof of financial capacity to conduct the services the company had applied for. The license expired before the conditions were fulfilled.”

In 2014 Pearl was again granted a conditional license but still failed to meet the set conditions.

Mukula’s other attempt to run an aviation training school under the names of Uganda Aviation School, initially meant to train pilots and later to train cabin crew, met a similar fate of failing to meet the basic requirements such as facilities to conduct practical training.

CAA says that in June 2014 UAS was granted a provisional air service license for Training subject to an agreement with the East African Civil Aviation Academy in Soroti on use of equipment and infrastructure.

But CAA says Mukula’s UAS failed to provide the agreement and could therefore not utilize the license.

Mukula’s ambitions have also turned out to lack focus, as shown by the way he has shifted from training to operating airline businesses.

As CAA points out: “In October 2015 for reasons unknown to the Authority, UAS revised its training scope and decided to limit itself to cabin crew training.” CAA says that working with the Uganda National Council for Higher Education, organized a meeting with UAS to review their training manuals and syllabus in June 2016 but UAS officials failed to turn up.

The school which was located on Cham Towers and was highly advertised faces a similar fate of collapse as the other ventures of Mukula.

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