The Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), David Mpanga Kakuba has revealed that the Authority had no role to play in the Shs 90bn extra money that was allegedly ferried into the country on a plane carrying Bank of Uganda (BOU) currency cargo.
The Director General made the remarks while appearing before the Parliament Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) that was handling 2016 audit queries.
Among the queries that were raised by the Auditor General (AG) was that the authority was found wanting as far as compliance with safety regulations requirements as required by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
In response, Kakuba noted that the safety standards have since been complied with adding that the CAA scored 80 percent in the recent safety report.
This however prompted the Samia Bugwe North MP, Gideon Onyango to question CAA officials to explain the role that CAA had in the cargo said to have been flown into the country irregularly.
“It is no longer a secret that a consignment of unknown goods alleged to be money entered the country through Entebbe airport. Government has continued to contradict itself through different arms but now you as CAA through which the cargo passed, you could be in the know of what was ferried into the country,” Onyango inquired.
Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Semujju Nganda requested the Director General to reveal m whether any of the CAA officials are being investigated over the matter.
“Importing currency isn’t an ordinary cargo, you may have been alerted but I am interested to know whether you had any role or no role that you played,” Nganda asked Kakuba.
In response, the Director General noted that concerning the allegations, some goods were brought into the country with a very sensitive consignment.
He said however that no official from CAA has been summoned to respond to any investigations.
On his part, the Director Airport and Aviation Security, Eng. Sooma Ayub told legislators that there is a laid down procedure for special cargo such as currency.
“The BOU currency cargo emanates and ends in Bank of Uganda; the airport is only an entry or exit. It (cargo) has special escort – bullion vans – especially when it comes to a chartered flight,” he said.
He added that Civil Aviation Authority plays no role except for ensuring that whatever is coming into the country is not going to cause harm.
On issues of currency, BOU has special arrangement, he said; “Once the Director of Currency says that they are to bring in currency, it will be a special mission and all verification will be done at BOU. Central Bank only writes to us that they are bringing in currency and all that we have to do is to verify whether the information in the letter is correct.”
According to the Director General, CAA doesn’t verify what comes into the country as that this is the work of other agencies that work at the Airport.
Kampala Central MP, Mohammed Nsereko was prompted to ask CAA officials on whether they gave the landing rights to the charted plane that flew the currency into the country and whether they had knowledge of what was being ferried.
“We clear the flight and when they are cleared, we don’t go into details of what is on the plane and this was a chartered plane by Bank of Uganda,” Kakuba responded.
Asked to explain the clearance of the chartered plane, the Director Safety, Ronny Barongo said: “In this case, we didn’t deal with Bank of Uganda directly, we dealt with her agent, Astral Aviation Services of Kenya which applied for the flight clearance and indicated that it was carrying printed material to Uganda”.
He says Astral wrote to CAA but didn’t indicate that there were other palates apart from the BOU currency.
In his ruling, the committee Vice Chairperson, Ibrahim Kasozi noted that the matter can only be resolved once other concerned parties including BOU, URA, Security and CAA are invited to appear before committee.