Entebbe security staff detained on extortion charges- Aviation authority

Passengers arrive at Entebbe International Airport recently. Photo/Eve Muganga

What you need to know:

  • From 2020 to date, 26 members of staff from various agencies operating at the airport have either been suspended, terminated or subjected to other disciplinary measures

Aviation police are holding an aviation security staff who was filmed at Entebbe International Airport seemingly negotiating with a passenger for Shs400,000 bribe to facilitate their travel, authorities have said.
Uganda Civil Aviation Authority’s (UCAA) deputy director general, Ms Olive Birungi Lumonya told journalists that one of their staff suspected to be involved in extortion had been arrested on Friday after a video recording showing him bargaining for a bribe went viral on social media.

Entebbe airport to expose corrupt staff
“The vigilant members of the public shared leading information that enabled us to get clues'' she said during a press conference jointly addressed with the director of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, Maj Gen. Kasiita Goowa in response to a growing concern about how travellers are being ripped off their hard-earned money at the airport.

She, however, noted that there were a number of other viral videos shared on TikTok that carried “a lot of inaccuracies and others exaggerated” citing one video that featured someone wearing uniform that doesn't belong to any of the agencies at the airport “yet it's portrayed as if it was at Entebbe.”
According to her, after a departing passenger has gone past immigration, recalling them or offloading them for any reason would only happen with the express permission of the Director Airports and Aviation security or General Manager of UCAA.

Ms Lumonya said the Authority had also re-instated a 2021 directive to the airport staff banning use of personal mobile phones while on duty.
“It is only the supervisors that are exempted. While there may have been laxity in implementation of this directive, it is now being re-emphasised and is going to be fully enforced,” she said.

She also revealed that the aviation authority officials had held engagement meetings to harmonise operations of the different stakeholders on departure with a view of ensuring that some functions are merged and handled more efficiently by fewer agencies to avoid duplication and multiple checks and desks before a passenger accesses the check-in counters.

“We would like to reassure the public that all cases and complaints submitted to UCAA with evidence will be thoroughly investigated and action taken. A number of those, which were submitted earlier, were worked on and action taken, with staff found culpable and disciplined. From 2020 to date, 26 members of staff from various agencies operating at the airport have either been suspended, terminated or subjected to other disciplinary measures,” she added.

Following the extortion claims, all staff at the airport will be required to wear their name tags for easy identification but also as one of the ways to contain corruption tendencies.
“We are not angels  and some mishaps happen but we have taken action on errant officers found wanting and we shall continue taking action. We need to work with integrity and honesty,’’ Maj Gen Gowa.
Airline travel is a tricky business for many owing to the strict flight schedules. Travellers have to be checked in at least one-and-a-half hours before their departure time. But faced with extortionist staff, who have mastered the art of delaying travellers, many find themselves vulnerable and end up yielding just to get cleared and avoid missing a flight.

Uganda is the 144 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, according to the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.
In October last year, Uganda’s Inspectorate of Government revealed that the east African nation loses at least Shs9.144 trillion to corruption conduits present in both the private and public institutions every year.