The past week has seen numerous Ugandans storm social media to protest extortion and endemic corruption at the Entebbe Airport, some including video evidence of the staff soliciting bribes.
The most recent case was that of an employee of the National Aviation Services (NAS) who reportedly received a bribe of 10,000 USD to allow a passenger travel to Brazil without proper documentation.
The Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) shared that the employee had been relieved from their duties, while the spokesperson for the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SAHCU), Mariam Natasha shared that investigations into the case had begun.
Last week, the UCAA said they would publish a list of employees whose security passes have been withheld due to corruption and other unethical practices at the Airport.
The incident followed a series of other corruption allegations at the East African’s country only international airport.
Just last week, an employee was arrested for altering a passenger’s passport details while another employee solicited for a bribe to allow a passenger add more luggage to their carry-ons.
The myriad of public complaints triggered an initial investigation which led to the dismissal and arrest of some culprits.
Another result of the mass protests is a directive given to airport staff to wear their name tags at all times, for easy identification. The UCAA also reinforced a 2021 directive given to airport staff to stop using their personal mobile phones at work.
According to UCAA Deputy Director General Olive Birungi Lumonya, 26 airport staff have been terminated, suspended or subjected to disciplinary measures since 2020.
The list of defaulting staff featured women as the vilest offenders, a contradiction to the public perception that women are less prone to vices such as corruption.
IGG Takes Over from UCAA
The investigations into the larger corruption allegations were originally being undertaken by Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) but the agency has been taken off the case due to their personal involvement.
Beti Olive Kamya, the Inspector General of Government (IGG), said her office will carry out the investigation instead since UCAA “cannot investigate itself”. The IGG reckons that the persistent corruption allegations over the years call for a systematic inquiry.
Over the past half decade, the Inspectorate has investigated 21 corruption cases tied to the government agency. During the course of the investigations, huge sums of money have reportedly been recovered, a pointer to the extent of the rot in the UCAA.
While addressing journalists at the Inspectorate of Government (IG) head office in Kampala, Kamya commended the Director of Citizenship and Immigration Control for promptly apprehending the defaulters, but also stressed the importance in taking it further.
“As the Inspectorate of Government, we shall work with the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority and the Directorate of Immigration to prosecute those that were apprehended. It is not enough to dismiss or punish them, but we also need them to be prosecuted,” asserted Kamya.
A list of cases shared by Uganda Radio Network (URN) reports corruption cases such as extortion (and attempted extortion) of money, human trafficking, negligence, aiding smuggling of rhinoceros horns, theft of money from passenger luggage, et ad nauseam.
Sources: Mazima, Simple Flying