News PARLIAMENT

Ministry of Defence Grapples with High Costs for Troop Transport Amidst Grounded Aircraft

The Ministry of Defence is facing significant financial strain, spending approximately Shs400 million monthly to transport troops to Somalia and other destinations due to grounded planes owned by Uganda Air Cargo.

During a session with the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, Rosette Byengoma, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, revealed that they have been chartering flights from Uganda Air Cargo, resulting in financial losses for the government. Byengoma emphasized the urgent need for funds to repair the grounded aircraft.

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Officials from the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs, led by Minister Jacob Oboth, appeared before the committee to address issues raised regarding the Defence Ministerial Policy Statement for the financial year 2024/2025. The meeting, held on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, delved into concerns raised by Committee Chairperson, Hon. Wilson Kajwengye, regarding troop transport amidst grounded aircraft.

General Manager of Uganda Air Cargo, Gen. Lakibus Lakara, explained that the aircraft were in poor condition and not operational. He proposed disposing of the existing aircraft, citing the high costs of repair.

In response, Hon. Kajwengye noted that the process to dispose of the aircraft falls under the Ministry of Defence’s jurisdiction, with Parliament overseeing compliance with regulations.

The Ministry of Defence has requested Shs381 billion for the procurement of an aircraft. In December 2023, Cabinet revived the Uganda Air Cargo Corporation (UACC) Limited, a subsidiary of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), after years of dormancy due to operational funding challenges. Currently, three aircraft await disposal, while two undergo repairs.

For the upcoming financial year of 2024/2025, the Ministry of Defence seeks a budget of Shs7.9 trillion to fulfill its responsibilities. However, Minister Oboth disclosed a significant shortfall, with only Shs3.8 trillion allocated. Minister Oboth appealed to the committee for assistance in mobilizing funds, highlighting the inadequacy of current allocations.

Byengoma, the Permanent Secretary, highlighted various areas of underfunding, including wage enhancements, staff recruitment, pension, medical expenses, and soldier clothing, emphasizing the urgent need for additional resources to meet operational requirements.

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