Fire breaks out at stores near Entebbe International Airport

A fire outbreak has been reported at stores near Entebbe International Airport, Uganda's primary gateway to the world.

The fire outbreak occurred at the DAS Warehouse located near the airport premises on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) promptly confirmed the incident and released a statement shortly after midnight.

In their official statement, UCAA stated, "An incident involving a fire outbreak occurred at the DAS Warehouse located in the vicinity of Entebbe International Airport on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. A joint team of fire-fighting services is engaging to contain the blazing fire, and the exact cause of the fire will be investigated."

This unfortunate incident has ignited concerns regarding the need to reinforce fire and emergency services at the international airport, as it serves as a crucial lifeline for travellers and cargo transportation.

Notably, this is not the first time that Entebbe International Airport has faced a fire-related crisis. In 2021, a fire broke out in the airport's fuel tanks area, sending panic waves through travellers and airport workers.

At that time, UCAA attributed the incident to routine maintenance on fuel tank 4, which involved draining remaining fuel segments using a diesel-powered pump. The pump's drainage tube disengaged, causing fuel to spill and triggering the fire outbreak.

This recent fire incident took place just a week after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) dispatched a team of officials to conduct an oversight audit of Entebbe International Airport. The primary objective of this audit is to assess Uganda's effective implementation of ICAO standards and recommended practices.

ICAO, a specialized agency of the United Nations, plays a crucial role in coordinating international air navigation principles and techniques, as well as fostering the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.

During their visit, the ICAO team had a meeting with President Museveni at Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo.

President Museveni emphasized that the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority team should be prepared to learn and make improvements where necessary. The audit will encompass a comprehensive evaluation of legislation, organization, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigation, air navigation services, and aerodromes.

Gen. Katumba Wamala expressed optimism that a positive outcome of the audit would instil trust and confidence in Uganda's airspace among stakeholders. He noted that it could pave the way for Uganda Airlines to operate in destinations like the UK, which has not permitted the national carrier to access its airspace until the audit is completed.

"If the audit comes out positive, then it will be a chance to operate in the UK. Not in the UK alone but also in other areas like China, and Mumbai, among others," Gen. Katumba highlighted, underlining the potential benefits of a successful audit for Uganda's aviation sector.

As the investigation into the recent fire outbreak at Entebbe International Airport unfolds, the scrutiny of safety and operational standards at the facility has never been more critical.

The aviation community, stakeholders, and travellers are closely following developments in the hope that necessary improvements will be made to ensure the continued safety and growth of one of Uganda's most vital transportation hubs.

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