Amend­ing the Civil Avi­a­tion Act 1991 and what it means for Uganda

By: Isaac Okello

On the 24th of May 2017 the state Min­is­ter for the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port Ag­grey Bagi­ire in­tro­duced the Amend­ment bill be­fore Par­lia­ment ti­tled the Civil Avi­a­tion Amend­ment Bill 2017. The bill is be­ing re­viewed by Phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture com­mit­tee of par­lia­ment be­fore any amend­ments can be con­sid­ered.

The Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (Amend­ment) Bill 2017, Cap 354 seeks to ad­dress and make the fol­low­ing changes to the Act of 1991. To re-des­ig­nate Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity as the Uganda Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity; To re-des­ig­nate the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor as the di­rec­tor gen­eral; To em­power the di­rec­tor gen­eral to take spe­cific ac­tions with­out con­sul­ta­tion with the Min­is­ter; To pro­vide for the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­de­pen­dent ac­ci­dent and in­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit and for re­lated mat­ters. To di­rectly work with the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity.


From the above, the fol­low­ing can be im­plied to be the in­ten­tions of the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity Amend­ment Bill 2017,

The chang­ing of name to Uganda Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity seems to be a rather fair amend­ment to na­tion­al­ize the au­thor­ity and make it own up to its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Sec­ondly re­nam­ing the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor to Di­rec­tor Gen­eral ap­pears at the face of it that the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity is try­ing to sep­a­rate its self from be­ing un­der the con­trol and armpit of the Min­istry of works and trans­port.

Ac­cord­ing to Richard Miller Bird, Milka Casane­gra in their book ‘’Im­prov­ing Tax Ad­min­is­tra­tion in De­vel­op­ing Coun­tries, Vol­ume 19’’ one of the ways to cre­ate in­de­pen­dence, self-re­liant and strengthen over­sights is to cre­ate an in­de­pen­dent role out­side the ex­it­ing po­si­tions just like Mu­sev­eni did when he ap­pointed a Kam­pala Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer.

Thirdly, em­pow­er­ing of the then will be di­rec­tor gen­eral to make spe­cific ac­tions with­out con­sult­ing the Min­is­ter for works tends to give the same more au­thor­ity which will in most case be unchecked. Ac­cord­ing to Aris­to­tle, checks and bal­ances are very vi­tal in any sys­tem if it is to suc­ceed and also en­sure fair and bal­anced sys­tem and min­i­mizes short­com­ings.

In ad­di­tion, cre­ation of an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit will make and al­low for proper, quick and timely in­ves­ti­ga­tions, af­ter all sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers is key for any in­sti­tu­tion to per­form to its best as ac­cord­ing to Gram­ling, Au­drey In their jour­nal “Ad­dress­ing Prob­lems with the Seg­re­ga­tion of Du­ties in Smaller Com­pa­nies.” CPA Jour­nal 80.7 (2010).

How­ever, it also leaves room for un­con­trolled and un­mon­i­tored ac­tions that may in­ter­fere with the progress and per­for­mance of other func­tion­ing bod­ies. But also this will lead and in­crease in ad­min­is­tra­tive costs yet re­sources are lim­ited.

In con­clu­sion, the amend­ment of the CAA bill seems to be a very fun­da­men­tal step, be­cause it seeks to in­cor­po­rate the stan­dards set by the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity, to in­clude but not lim­ited to proper man­age­ment by set­ting new du­ties for the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral and also set­ting a dif­fer­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion body for ac­ci­dents which will al­low for proper and ef­fi­cient in­ves­ti­ga­tion strate­gies.

While at the same time al­low­ing the Au­thor­ity to con­tinue with its core ob­jec­tive  a dead rats odor is loom­ing be­hind the ob­jec­tive of the Bill most es­pe­cially when it comes to over­sight and mon­i­tor­ing of the body.

This is be­cause the bill at­tempts to dis­sect the Uganda Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity from hav­ing to di­rectly re­port to Min­istry of works and Trans­port in ad­di­tion to giv­ing the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral the power to make de­ci­sion con­sult­ing the Min­is­ter for Works and Trans­port.


on 8th Feb­ru­ary 1991, the Civil Avi­a­tion Act was en­acted, which es­tab­lishes the Au­thor­ity re­spon­si­ble for air craft main­te­nance, reg­is­ter, ap­proval and reg­u­la­tion to be the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity. The Act also names the high­est in­di­vid­ual in the Au­thor­ity to be re­ferred to as Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. The Act lim­its the ac­tions of the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor to the ex­tent that these spe­cific ac­tions are ap­proved and en­dorsed by the Min­is­ter of Works and Trans­port.

As per the Act, the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity is un­der the su­per­vi­sion and Au­thor­ity of the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port. Fur­ther­more, the law pro­vides that ac­ci­dent and in­ves­ti­ga­tions shall be in­ves­ti­gated and as­sessed by the Au­thor­ity its self.

The Civil Avi­a­tion Act 1991 is law that Es­tab­lishes the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity, a statu­tory body re­spon­si­ble for main­te­nance of air­craft reg­istry and over­sees the ap­proval and reg­u­la­tion of civil avi­a­tion. Civil Avi­a­tion is one of two ma­jor cat­e­gories of fly­ing, rep­re­sent­ing all non-mil­i­tary avi­a­tion, both pri­vate and com­mer­cial sub­ject to the stan­dards set, mon­i­tored and gov­erned by the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (ICAO). ICAO is an agency of the United Na­tions.

It es­tab­lished the Treaty which was for­mu­lated dur­ing the In­ter­na­tional  Civil  Avi­a­tion  meet­ing  held  in  Chicago  in  1944 dur­ing the con­ven­tion on  the  In­ter­na­tional Civil  Avi­a­tion. This Con­ven­tion is also known as the Chicago Con­ven­tion to which Uganda is a sig­na­tory.