In response to reports of extortion at the country’s sole international airport, Entebbe Airport authorities have reintroduced the restriction on the use of mobile phones by airport employees.
Extortion allegations have been making waves at Entebbe Airport since the beginning of this week. Several passengers said they were requested for up to $1,000 before being permitted to leave the country, and when they refused, several claimed they were prevented from boarding the plane.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Olive Birungi Lumonya, the deputy director general of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), acknowledged that the public’s allegations of extortion are true and mentioned that several employees had already been detained as a result.
“This was a staff of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority but in the video, he was doing it outside the airport. He has however been arrested. We have clear procedures on what to be followed to punish him”
Maj Gen Apollo Kasiita Gowa the Director of Citizenship and Immigration Control at the Internal Affairs Ministry commented on the same and further admitted guilt, adding that some of their workers had engaged in such vices but added that they would be subject to discipline.
“We are not angles and some mishaps happen but we have taken action. Action has been taken on errant officers found wanting and we shall continue taking action. We need to work with integrity and honesty. This is a continuous process as they say Rome was not built in one day,” Maj Gen Gowa told journalists.
The UCAA deputy director general claims that all of the publicly available films have been examined as part of inquiries into the complaints, noting that while some of them were discovered to be real, others were fraudulent.
Authorities reported that at least 26 employees from different agencies who were discovered to have engaged in misbehavior between 2020 and the present have received suspensions, dismissals, or other disciplinary actions.
Ban on Use of Phones
The CAA forbade contracted employees at Entebbe Airport from using their cellphones or other personal devices while on the job last year. Mobile phones were only permitted for passengers.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, the deputy director general of UCAA said that one strategy to combat corruption at the nation’s international airport is to reestablish the prohibition on using mobile phones in light of recent allegations of extortion by members of the public.
“While there may have been laxity in implementation of this directive, it is now being re-emphasized and is going to be fully enforced. All staff who interface with passengers in operational areas are prohibited from use of private mobile phones while on duty within the terminal building,”Lumonya said.
“The vice has happened through use of mobile phones. We know the implementation of the directive has not been effective but right from today, we shall implement it, follow it up and shall enforce it.”
New Measures put in Place
In order to facilitate identification and as a means of reducing vices like extortion, all airport employees will now be compelled to wear name tags, according to the authorities.
“It has also been resolved that after a passenger has gone past immigration on departure, recalling them or offloading them for any reason would only take place with express permission of the director of airports and aviation security or General Manager for UCAA.”