At least 60 airport taxis have been phased out of Entebbe airport by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) due to being old. The affected taxis were manufactured majorly before 2003 and were phased out between September 2019 and January 7, 2020.
The phaseout is in line with an agreement between the airport taxi operators, UCAA and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to improve the mode of transport at different airports across the country and also reduce carbon emissions.
Some of the main contributors of the carbon emissions at airports include gasoline and diesel fuel airport vehicles and ground support equipment, fossil fuel for electricity and heating, jet fuel for auxiliary power units that power aircraft at airport gates, among other sources.
UCAA directed operators to get rid of the taxis, especially those produced before 2003. Jackson Sserubidde, the chairperson of Airport Taxi Drivers says the idea to ban old vehicles from the airport has helped them to upgrade their vehicles and eased transport.
Sserubidde says the association intends to ban a further 30 old taxis from operating at the airport. The operators of the affected taxis have been offered secured loans from different banks within Entebbe to purchase new vans. About 300 taxis operate at Entebbe airport.
Kassim Kisitu an airport taxi operator whose vehicle was laid off, says the idea to lay off old airport taxis has helped all those with old vehicles to upgrade not only to reduce carbon emissions but also get safer vehicles.
“The vehicle disposed of was already dangerous to me and the passengers I have been transporting. Since the mechanism where I can get a loan and buy a new vehicle is in place, I am sure I will be transforming for the better,” Kisitu said.
Vianney Luggya, the public affairs manager UCAA, says the laying off of old vehicles presumed to be emitting excessive carbon is part of the wider project that will see the reduction of emissions from the different sources at Entebbe airport.
Other machines emitting excessive carbon like those used in ground handling are also being laid off. Both DAS and NAS, which are involved in ground handling services, have started upgrading from machines that use fuel to electricity. According to a 2010 report from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), aircraft emit the highest emissions at the airport.
About 25 per cent of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off. That includes taxiing, which is the largest source of emissions in the landing-takeoff cycle. According to some estimates, about 20,000 planes are in use around the world, serving three billion passengers annually.
Bills Andrea, an aeronautical engineer at Entebbe airport says UCAA shouldn’t only focus on airport taxi operators and ground handling services to reduce emissions but also engage airliners on how to reduce carbon emissions from the different aircraft.