Sunday, 23 February 2014


Students at Soroti Flying School in hunger strike

Some of the students sit at the Director’s
Some of the students sit at the Director’s office on Friday. They said they would not leave until the issues are addressed. PHOTO BY SIMON PETER EMWAMU 

Posted  Sunday, February 23  2014 at  02:00
In Summary
The students are protesting lack of flying lessons after the instructors laid down their tools.
Students of Soroti flying school entered a second day of hunger strike, protesting lack of flights after their instructors downed their tools over unpaid salaries and poor welfare.
Mr Andrew Sanya Wabwire, the guild spokesperson, told the Sunday Monitor that the instructors’ strike comes three weeks after the school resumed flights following the grounding of their planes last year because of mechanical faults.
The instructors maintain that they will not resume work unless issues of salaries and welfare are addressed.
Mr Wabwire accused the academy’s administration for habouring personal ambitions at the expense of the student’s needs.
“Some of our colleagues have spent years in training because of the ill-administration,” Mr Wabwire said. He said the students would not eat or sleep and will remain camped at the director’s office until an academic plan is availed.
He added that when the President met them last year, he ordered that the Ministry of Works and Transport purchases 310-twin engine planes and increase salary for the instructors and improve welfare but instead the situation is getting worse every other day.
“Nowadays, when our parents call, they ask us how about our ‘work place’, because we spent long here instead of the recommended two years. We are not UPE or USE students. We pay $18,000 (about Shs45 million) for the course,” he said.
Mr Brian Ochen, a flying student, said he has taken seven years at the academy for a course that he would have taken him two years.
He said students remaining with instrument rating (IR) training that has to be done using two-twin engine planes have not taken the course and the academy says there is no money for its running.
Mr Ronald Lodiong, the director of the academy, says he learnt of the strike while attending a seminar in Entebbe through his chief instructor.
He said when he left last Sunday, all operations were running smoothly.
He added he is in a closed-door meeting with the instructors to try and find a solution in order for the students to resume flights.

Mr Lodiong admitted that the academy has had ups and downs, ranging from plane breakdown, aviation fuel shortage, issues of instructors, financial crisis, but said measures by the ministry are underway to solve the ever cropping problems.
He said the academy will continue preparing meals.

Soroti Flying School Receives Boost of Ugx 1. 2 Billion 

Alex Okello Bwangamoi, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of works and transport says the money was reallocated from none priority areas.

Soroti flying school has received a boost of 1.2 billion shillings from the Ministry of Works and Transport, URN has learnt. The money was disbursed to the school accounts on 15thNovember 2013.
Alex Okello Bwangamoi, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of works and transport says the money was reallocated from none priority areas from the ministry.

Recently, URN ran a story in which officials of Soroti flying school complained of financial difficulties. Ronald Lodiong, the acting Director Soroti Flying School says the school is indebted to the tune of 982 million Uganda shillings. He explains that the outstanding debt covers aviation fuel, spares and food supplies.

Lodiong says that 331 million shillings out of the 982 million shillings will go towards insurance. He says the 1.2 billion shillings will not even cover the bills for September and October. Alex Okello Bwangamoi, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of works and transport has promised to mobilize more funds for the school.

Due to financial constraints all the aircrafts of Soroti Flying Academy are grounded and need to be overhauled in Nairobi.

Soroti Flying School is limping

Soroti Flying School is limping
The front view of Soroti Flying School Academy. Photo by Simon Peter Emwamu. 
By Simon Peter Emwamu

Posted  Sunday, November 3  2013 at  00:00
In Summary
Pilot trainees indicate that the runway is rough for planes and that they struggle to find aircrafts for practice after the planes got grounded.

Established in 1971 by the East African Community to train pilots and aircraft engineers for the East African market, Soroti Flying School Academy is today a shadow of what it was; with all its planes grounded.
The siren sounds from hovering planes over the skies of Soroti Town and neighbouring districts have gone silent. 
According to the latest revelations from sources who do not want to be named because they are not allowed to speak to the press, the only surviving plane out of the eight, has also been grounded as the academy ponders where to find funds for repairing the aircraft.
“Without a validated certificate we can’t access the skies and to guarantee this, the planes must be repaired but the academy is bankrupt,” the source explains.
The source says the administration control over certain issues has been trimmed. At one point, the academy controlled the runway, measuring 1,860 metres, but the Civil Aviation Authority has since assumed authority over this.
“The runway has turned rough and pot holes are emerging as flying stones from it have caused a great deal of damaged on the planes,”
Mr Ignie Igunduura, the CAA public relations manager, says indeed, the flying school airworthiness certificate has expired, and that they have no reason to blame CAA, saying the academy knows the CAA policies and procedures of renewing the certificate.
He adds that the certificate is issued after CAA, a body overseeing flight operations, examines the status and safety of the planes, adding that the situation the academy finds itself in is tricky, all they must do is to fix their planes.
Mr Igunduura says a team of experts from CAA are on the ground to assess the status of the flying school runway, its safety integrity, and that CAA response to rehabilitate the runway will solely be based on the expert’s findings.
According to a student who only identified himself as James, he told this newspaper that frustrations towards CAA by the administrators has widened, saying ever since the flight instructors complained about the state of the runway in 2010, CAA has seemingly paid a deaf ear until of late when the runway caused the grounding of the planes.
“Last year when one of the planes crash-landed at this strip, the roughness of the runway was pointed out as one of the cause, surprisingly since then it was ignored,” the concern student reveals.
However, Mr Igunduura refutes the allegations, saying they are not responsible for repairing the fleet of its grounded Cesena planes.
Ms Susan Kataike, the public relations manager of Ministry of Works and Transport, says a couple of meetings are being held to find out channels of getting money to help the limping academy repair its planes.
Ms Kataike says the once vexing issue of instructors has seemingly been sorted out, but information within the inner circles indicate that most of these instructors are attached to UPDF, who are there to train their air force personnel and as soon as it is done, the possibility is that they would be taken back.
Listening to Joseph Otialuk Maraka, the deputy guild president and a cadet pilot student, all is not well; the academy is hobbling, and revelations from the administrators is that the funding has dropped from Shs3 billion to Shs170 million not worthy running the academy.

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