Entebbe International airport management has banned the filming of videos and shooting of photos on the airport premises.
This comes just days after the airport was embroiled in a corruption scandal in which some of the airport staff were accused of extorting money from travelers especially Ugandans traveling abroad for work.
The corruption at the airport was exposed through citizen journalists who recorded and leaked videos and photos of the airport staff allegedly asking for bribes while others were captured on film allegedly taking bribes from the travelers before clearing them to travel.
The bribes that were being asked for by the officers in question are said to range between $100 (Shs380,000) and $1000 (Shs3.8 million).
The victims claim that despite presenting all necessary documents required for travel outside Uganda, some officers come up with ‘baseless’ excuses to block their flights.
They said it is only after paying bribes that they are allowed to proceed with their flights.
This has raised intrigue among some Ugandans especially on social media, with some, calling for the government’s intervention in what they say is a growing vice at the airport.
The scandal culminated in the airport setting up stringent measures to prevent extortion at the nation’s main port of entry.
In a statement released on Thursday, Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCCA) said they had noted the trending videos and said that where such incidents could have happened, were regrettable.
Gen. Katumba intervenes
Gen Katumba Wamala, the minister of internal affairs while presenting a report on the corruption at the airport to parliament said that the revelation of corruption at the airport was an eye opener, which in turn led to many positive changes.
He, however, said the issue of corruption is not only at the airport, but national crisis that must be confronted head on.
“It is not only at the airport, every institution has the same problem. So, we need to address moral decay as a requirement,” Gen Katumba said.
He added that measures have since been put in place to curb corruption and reduce human interaction at the airport.
“effective February 10, departing passengers will access the airport using the new remodified passenger terminal building.”
“This will provide an organized and synchronized facilitation process for travelers by reducing duplication of roles, multiple checks or desks before a passenger accesses the check-in counter,”
The minister also said the labor desk and aviation police at the airport, who have been withholding travel documents from passengers without following proper procedures, have been stopped.
CAA spokesperson Vianney Lugya however says this is not a reaction to the corruption scandal.
“This is not a new thing especially at the terminal area, you can only film when you have prior permission. It has been around, only that we are re-emphasizing because of what happened recently.” Lugya said adding that
“It is not good for people to be scanning security information about a traveler and you are busy filming.”
Lugya however says they will not prosecute the whistleblowers who clew the can off extortion at the airport last week.
For the individuals who filmed the varios corruption scandals, we are not interested in pursuing them and we do not want to victimise anyone but we encourage going forward that people should use our feedback channels and such cases will be investigated.
Uganda ranks 144th out of 180 countries, in 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.
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