KAMPALA — Entebbe International Airport staff have been banned from using personal mobile phones while on duty to avert corruption.
The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority Deputy Director General Ms. Olive Birungi Lumunyo said enforcement of the directive takes effect immediately.
While addressing reporters in the reaction to measures put in place to mitigate a thread of complaints by travelers, Ms. Birungi noted with concern that the use of personal phones and other devices by airport staff while on duty had provided a fertile ground for corruption and bribery tendencies at the airport.
“In 2021, the Authority issued a directive to all airport stakeholders urging them to inform their staff who interface with passengers in operational areas that use of private mobile phones is prohibited while in duty within the terminal building. It is only the supervisors that were exempted,” Ms. Lumonye said
While there may have been laxity in implementation of this directive, she told reporters, it is now being re-emphasised and is going to be fully enforced.
Lumonye said airport stakeholders 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.
Authorities have also resolved that after a passenger has gone past Immigration on departure, recalling them or offloading them for any reason would only take place with the express permission of the Director Airports and
Aviation security or Genanal Manager-EIA of UCAA.
“We are intensifying the playing of messages on Flight Information Display screens at the airport alerting/reminding passengers not to be compelled to pay any money to anyone in exchange for a favour at the airport,” CAA said, re-assuring the public that all cases/complaints submitted to UCAA with evidence will be thoroughly investigated and action taken
From 2020 to date, 26 airport staff from various agencies have either been suspended, terminated or subjected to other disciplinary measures she said.
Authorities have also directed all staff operating at the Airport. to wear Name Tags while on duty to easy identification.
On Thursday, social media was awash with allegations from travelers who claim that some immigration officers are demanding bribes before clearing them to take flights.
Airport authority have admitted that there were cases of extortion but said they’re being investigated.
This website understands that a top Civil Aviation official has since been arrested by airport security to aid with investigations.
A traveler who spoke on condition of anonymity says that no specific amount of money is demanded but it ranges from USD 100 to USD 500 depending on the person querying and the nature of the query. The victims may then, after negotiations, be directed to a person who hands the money.
The source says that the alternative is to refuse to pay the amount and miss the flight. But usually, a traveler weighing between losing money for another air ticket, and also getting late for the scheduled business, chooses to pay the bribe and save themselves the bigger bother.
In March last year, three officials were arrested by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit after a refugee missed a flight ending up spending another US $1800 for another air ticket.