By PATRICK JARAMOGI
ENTEBBE, Uganda [SHIFTMEDIA] As you scroll the busy downtown Kampala and the Central Business District, it is business as usual.
It is rather hard to comprehend that just some two years ago, citizens were lockdown in their cubicles due to the COVID-19 pandemic that affected some 169,000 Ugandans and left at least 3,630 dead.
The busy streets, markets, shops, malls, churches and schools were all no go area some few months ago. Similarly, all borders, sea, air and land ports of entry were sealed off, as means to contain the pandemic that has so far hit 670 million people globally and left at least 6.55 million dead.
There was jubilation when the situation was eased due to less spread of COVID 19 across the country. Schools, churches, mosques markets were all opened, the transport sector saw some relief as boda bodas, taxis, buses and other forms of transport were allowed to operate fully like ever before.
Airports were opened, tourists, business personalities, visitors, investors begun trekking in, Ugandan migrant workers flying outside Uganda into the Middle East spiked.
Though the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in a recent statement hinted that Entebbe International Airport had registered one of the highest numbers of passengers, (4062) in a single day in recent years, this news may soon turn negative as we can reveal.
But as we speak, the issue of subjecting international travelers to a paid PCR to check is threatening the tourism industry.
We discovered that scores of ‘unscrupulous’ persons, who are behind the laboratories purchased for testing the COVID-19 are behind this racket of lucrative business.
“The situation in Entebbe airport is pathetic and sad that even those who have COVID-19 Vaccination cards are subjected to forced COVID-19 PCR tests. Those found with symptoms prior to catching their flight at Entebbe International Airport are denied boarding,” said a concerned frequent traveler.
These were health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and enforced by Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA).
In the guidelines, MOFA noted that all mandatory testing of all incoming passengers at Entebbe International Airport was suspended effective February 16, 2022
MOFA also stated that all arriving passengers should hold a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate issued within 72 hours from the time of sample collection to boarding aircraft leaving country of origin.
Much as it is a requirement for all passengers to go through the recommended Port health procedure of identifying body temperature and symptoms, these officials seem to be abusing the entire process for a quick kill.
Something Is Wrong
Though the new guidelines from the Ministry of Health are that incoming passengers must hold a COVID vaccination certificate, as well outbound passengers, this is not the case.
What is on ground is that whoever is flying out is supposed to pay shs 100,000 for a PCR test in one of the designated laboratories in Kampala and Entebbe.
But rather shocking is the fact that most destination countries like USA, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia don’t need to check results of
All these countries need is for a passenger to be in possession of COVID-19 vaccination certificate. So why are passengers flying out of Uganda being forced to pay this $30 (Shs100,000)?
Who is behind this racket? Where does this all this money go? We are talking of over USD$ 100,000 (Shs400 million daily.
Concerned authorities in government suggest that the forced Covid testing continues to cripple down the tourism industry at a time the country is grappling with the effects of Post Covid aftermath.
Others contend that the mandatory testing is aimed at sustaining the laboratories which were authorized to test travellers by the Ministry of Health.
These laboratories according to sources are co-owned by high-ranking officials in government who have since influenced the testing of passengers leaving the country.
In our next episode we shall expose the powerful government officials behind these laboratories.