KAMPALA—The Deputy of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa has directed authorities at Ministry of Works and Transport that of Internal Affairs to explain why powerful sanctions haven’t been placed on Entebbe International Airport staff involved in extorting money from travellers.
In his communication from the chair on Tuesday afternoon, Tayebwa said powerful criminal charges should be preferred against whoever is involved in the corruption syndicate at the airport.
“The Minister for Works and Transport will take the lead since he supervises Civil Aviation Authority, and the Minister for Internal Affairs will address the cases to do with immigration officers,” he said.
“Some people have been denied the chance to travel for opportunities which they strived to get because someone wants something small to put in their pocket,” Tayebwa noted.
“I also saw a shocking story in the Daily Monitor of a certain national who was allowed to exit the country yet he is on a blacklist. I am happy Uganda Civil Aviation Authority has admitted to most of these [issues],” he added.
Tayebwa observed that more punitive action ought to be taken against public officers who are accused of extortion.
“In the reports which we are seeing in the media, they are saying these officers have been dismissed, but these are criminals! You dismiss today and they go and get a job in another place and continue with that habit,” he noted.
The Deputy Speaker observed that it is prudent to ensure that persons manning immigration points have security experience.
“In other countries, the people manning immigration centres are usually from the Police. But when you pick individuals who do not know that charging someone US$5000 to enter the country and they bomb a school, church or public place, you end up losing much more!” Tayebwa said.
The Ministry of Works and Transport is headed by General Katumba Wamala.
Ugandans last week took to Social Media to expose alleged corruption at the Entebbe International Airport, with the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) saying it was taking the “regrettable” matter seriously.
In the videos, travellers complain about extortionist tendencies by airport officials.
The allegations range from immigration officials disputing documents to tampering with travellers’ luggage.
In some cases, travellers said that, if they were unable to pay a bribe, they would miss flights and, as such, had no choice but to re-book.
This alleged corruption happened, despite the airport having cameras in all strategic places.
UCAA said it had reached out to complaints for assistance in cracking down on the alleged corruption.
UCAA facilitates operations at the Entebbe International Airport, where numerous government arms, such as immigration, contracted handling agents, and ministry of health and state security agents, play different roles.
The alleged bribes range from at least UGX 350,000 depending on circumstances.
Last year, according to reports, three immigration officers were arrested at Entebbe International Airport on allegations of abuse of office after they reportedly caused a traveller to miss her flight.
It was claimed that she had forged clearance documents from the Office of the Prime Minister.
They were arrested after a whistleblower tip-off.