MINISTER | GEN KATUMBA | TRANSPORTATION
WAKISO- The Minister of Transport and Public Works, General Katumba Wamala inaugurated the aeronautical and maritime search and rescue committee. (Photo by Julius Luwemba)
The committee will oversee the rescue operations of persons who are or are believed to be in distress resulting from the use of air and sea transport.
The committee includes representatives from all relevant ministries and is chaired by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
The steering committee is also composed of permanent secretaries from the Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Health, Local Government, Disaster Preparedness and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Development economic.
Others include the Chief Executive of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), the Chief of Defense Force and the Inspector General of Police.
In the same vein, the Minister commissioned the Maritime Search and Rescue Call Center in the same ceremony held on Thursday at the Fisheries Training Institute of Entebbe Municipality.
The center will coordinate rescue operations on Lake Victoria, be accessible via a voice call code 110 to report distress incidents in Ugandan waterways and disseminate information to relevant stakeholders.
“The call center will capture and disseminate information regarding the location and position of the distress incident, the name and contact of the person reporting, the type of incident and the level of response required for the incident. “, explained Carol Mbabazi, who currently heads the center in Entebbe.
Henry Ategeka, the Department of Transport’s principal marine inspector, said US$80,000 (over 300 million shillings) has so far been spent on setting up the call center and implementing the search and rescue plan.
“This money includes equipment and cost sharing from other service providers like telecom companies,” Ategeka noted, adding that 2,400 life jackets were also purchased and distributed to people in different areas bordering the plans. of water as well as those affected by flooding.
According to Ategeka, nine lifeboats and one water ambulance boat will be procured under the same program and are expected to be distributed in August this year.
“Another search and rescue unit is being set up at Zengebe on Lake Kyoga,” Ategeka further hinted.
Minister Wamala highlighted the importance of search and rescue units saying that there is an increased volume of trade passing through Lake Victoria among other water bodies thus increasing activity on the water bodies.
“So we need to have mechanisms in place to address all challenges in airspace and water bodies,” the minister said.
Olive Lumonya, the deputy director general of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, said that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has an obligation for each state to provide such assistance measures to a aircraft in distress, on its territory, hence a justification for the establishment. an aeronautical and maritime search and rescue committee which will supervise the rescue operations of persons who are or are believed to be in distress resulting from the use of air and maritime transport.
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea requires each government to ensure that the necessary arrangements are made for communication and coordination in the event of distress in their area of responsibility.
These arrangements include the establishment, operation and maintenance of search and rescue facilities deemed practicable and necessary.