BY VENENSCIAS KIIZA
On October 1st, 2021, the Works and Transport Minister, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala appointed Fred K Bamwesigye as the substantive director general of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA). He had been holding the fort for 13 months.
However, according to documents, letters, correspondences, internal memos seen by this publication and as well separate interviews conducted by this reporter, Bamwesigye must go and slaughter his chicken as the common saying goes.
Why? Some Ugandans were hell bent on seeing him kicked out at all costs and one of the tricks deployed was to whistle blow to President Museveni a ‘litany of sins’ Bamwesigye and his cronies had allegedly committed before and since he joined UCAA and the 13 months he had been in the acting capacity.
With an invisible force behind, the operation to block Bamwesigye was being led by UCAA former Director Human Resource and Administration, Pascal Jabbe Osinde, whose services were terminated following a court order.
And as various stakeholders—Ministry of Works, security, the State House etc—were busy vetting who should become the substantive director general of UCAA, Jabbe wrote to President Museveni a seven pages letter, detailing why Bamwesigye was not fit for UCAA top job. Names of Eng. Sooma Ayub (UCAA Director Airports Aviation & Security) and that of Samuel Wonekha (UCAA General Manager Regional Airports) also popped up as bad guys also. Luckily, the letter reached its intended recipient.
Jabbe hoped that Bamwesigye, Wonekha and Sooma would be sacked there and then because he made a lot of allegations and the president was moved—they were true to be believed.
He recommended: “Set up an inquiry into the mismanagement and corruption in UCAA: Suspend and investigate the following; Fred Bamwesigye; Eng Ayub Sooma and Samuel Wonekha….”
Jabbe (who even attached his colorful CV) implored the president to help him go back and help in ‘clean up’ at UCAA, or deploy him somewhere else in line with his qualifications in the transport and logistics sector. He wrote: “H.E, I am ready to participate in the clean-up of UCAA once reinstated into employment of UCAA, fight corruption and ensure UCAA is a credible state owned institution if you so deem fit, am also ready to serve my country in any other capacity in the transport and Logistics sector where I am a qualified. I am sharing my CV for information purposes.
I look forward to our meeting with you and delivering the pictures and briefs on Odoi Chwalle and my late dad Emmanuel Opoya Osudo. I submit.”
Being the Museveni we have come to know who doesn’t act in hurry, because so has said so and so, Bamwesigye& Co were asked to respond to the allegations and which they did in a letter dated August 5th, 2021 and seen by this publication. All the allegations, or lies were debunked and it turned out that Jabbe and his backers had waged a vendetta against Bamwesigye& Co after the latter lost his UCAA HR job(which he attributes to the three) and that’s how Bamwesigye went on to be confirmed as UCAA boss.
Jabbe alleges that he was “unfairly pushed out of UCAA by a group of corrupt individuals using unfair court process targeting me and the Board for standing up against outright theft and grand corruption in the execution of projects at the Entebbe International Airport and the Regional Airports”. He attributes his ouster to Bamwesigye&Co. He further alleges that he was not the only victim but also “the same clique targeted Dr. Makuza the former MD, Engineer Kagoro the Former Director Airports, Sarah Sebunya the former Corporation Secretary”. He further accused Bamwesigye & Co of ignoring President Museveni’s concerns about security gaps at Entebbe Airport. He writes: “Whereas you previously wrote a well-articulated letter to CAA highlighting the existing security gaps at the Entebbe International Airport, your guidance in that letter was never adhered to and security at the Airport is neglected because it is headed by corrupt officials with insufficient security knowledge. As a result Entebbe is now red flagged by many countries as a conduit for illicit wildlife trade, human trafficking, minerals and narcotics smuggling. This is further exacerbated by corrupt security personnel who are compromised to sabotage the screening machines in order to ensure that they do not detect such prohibited items….For example, several individuals have been arrested siphoning fuel from parked aeroplanes, mad people arrested walking around the runway and strangers arrested sleeping in parked aircraft….”
He also highlights the issue of UCAA’s Organizational structure which he deems wanting. He particularly references the directorate of Airports & Aviation Security (DAAS) headed by Eng Ayub Sooma.
It’s a powerful/sensitive position and Jabbe says it should be headed by a professional military personnel at the level of a director who can directly report to the Director General on all security related matters. Observing that the directorate has many functions and maybe overwhelmed, he proposes a split: “…Divide the current Directorate of Airports and Aviation Security [DAAS] into two directorates called: Directorate of Security and Emergency Services [DASES] under a professional trained security officer; and Directorate of Airports Operations, Development and Maintenance [DAODM].”
BAMWESIGYE & CO SIDE OF THE STORY
In a 25 pages letter dated August 5th, 2021, Bamwesigye & Co, described the allegations as untrue, baseless, malicious and only aimed at blackmailing and character assassinating the trio whom Jabbe perceived to have caused his termination.
WHY JABBE LOST HIS JOB
Bamwesigye&Co explains that when the HRA position fell vacant, UCAA board started the process of filling it. Jabbe, Patrick Kamiza Robert and Samuel Wonekha were shortlisted. Whereas the job required someone with a relevant degree, a masters degree in HR and five year prior experience in the same field and general administration among others, it turned out that Jabbe did not possess some of them. Bamwesigye, who was then UCAA deputy director general, pointed out that it was a grave mistake to go ahead and appoint Jabbe. “As Director HRA, one would be in charge of enforcing hiring standards, for anyone who has not acquired the requirements of the job, would have no moral authority to enforce them. Besides, the nature of the aviation industry is such that adherence to set standards and operating procedures are the norm,” Bamwesigye advised and the exercise was halted for nine months. There were also attempts to fraudulently align the job requirements to suit Jabbe’s own qualifications but Bamwesigye advised those involved to follow the human resource manual. Curiously, Jabbe went on to be appointed on March 1st, 2019 but court following a petition by one Matagala Valentine kicked him out.
WHY RAMA, KAGORO, SEBUNYA WERE FIRED
Bamwesigye&Co also wonder how they can be accused of having a hand in the trio’s exit, when they were also junior staff without powers to cause such a decision. That such powers are vested in the line minister in consultation with the board. For Rama [former MD] it is understood the UCAA board evaluated his performance and concluded that he had not fulfilled his agreed targets and recommended to the minister to terminate his services. The board indicated that he failed to implement several resolutions, lacked corporate governance skills, failed to maintain the Airport and was not a team player. For Kagoro (Director Airports), he served and reached his mandatory retirement age of 60 years. Nevertheless his contract was extended for four more years which served out and retired at 65 years in 2018 from UCAA service. Sarah (Corporation secretary) had her contract served and completed, but the line minister did not renew it.
Bamwesigye & Co deny assertions that the president’s directives on closing security gaps were neglected. For the uninitiated, on July 22nd, 2013, Museveni wrote to then works minister Abraham Byandala raising a number of issues as far as security at EIA was concerned. He wrote: “The security people have written to me pointing out the following security gaps at EIA: Unchecked in-bound cargo; Access passes are manually issues(no computer record);No X-rays or cameras on the airside of the terminal building; once on the air-side no further control; The CCTV control room is not properly secured; The X-rays do not detect explosives-there ought to be explosive detectors; dogs are not systematically used; and duty free goods are mixed with passengers’ cargo ; etc, etc. This is, therefore, to direct you to get together with the Minister of security and discuss all these issues and thereafter, write to me a report by 30th of October, how these dangerous gaps are going to be closed.”
There were attempts to involve private security players in addressing some of these security gaps which the president out rightly rejected in a letter dated February 18th, 2015 and addressed to the new security minister Miruli Mukasa. “It has come to my attention that there is intention to privatize security at Entebbe Airport. This is amazing. Whose idea is this? Who authorized this? Did the Cabinet discuss this? If the Cabinet did not discuss it, who else could make such a decision? Nobody has ever consulted me on this. I hereby direct all the concerned authorities that no private companies should eve involve themselves in the security of Entebbe airport or any other airports in Uganda,” Museveni wrote and directed the formation of an Inter-Agency Task Force to be headed by former IGP Gen Kale Kayihura but it never progressed due to disagreements. An attempt to come up with another process was also reportedly marred with procedural irregularities which could not progress due to disagreements by the actors. Bamwesigye & Co makes it clear that they were not involved in all this.
Nevertheless, Bamwesigye and Co admits that true, not all security gaps have been closed at Entebbe International Airport (EIA) but credit must be given where it deserves despite meagre resources. Some include installation of CCTV cameras in critical areas; screening equipment for both passengers and cargo; adoption of non-equipment methods like systematic use of dogs; recruitment and training of aviation security screeners and as well boosting the security personnel numbers through secondment from the UPDF. As a result of such initiatives, Uganda has managed to score 80.81% during the International Civil Aviation (ICAO)’s Universal security audit programme-continuous monitoring approach in effective implementation (ICAP’s USAP-CMA).
Due to meagre resources, Bamwesigye & Co, admits that UCAA would wish to acquire a state of the art screening security equipment, security lighting and CCTV along the perimeter fence and drive through portals for the Search Park and new cargo centre. ‘The joint security operations in coordination with UCAA, working on a unified security solution package to address all the remaining gaps that will include the new developments at EIA,” Bamwesigye & Co assures.
They also take a jibe at Ojjabe whom they expect to have been in the know of all these plans intervening constraints having been a member of the management.
FUEL THEFT AND WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING
Bamwesigye& Co clarifies that these allegations are of the past and all culprits involved in fuel siphoning have since been identified, arrested, prosecuted, jailed and others fired. These reportedly included aircraft operators, ground handlers, fire fighters and security enforcers. They also take another jibe at Jabbe whom they say he reportedly failed to stop the vice while still head of administration but now here shouting about the same. To fight the wild trafficking, Bamwesigye & Co clarifies that the last incident was in 2017 where 12 pieces of Rhino horns were intercepted and all culprits were worked on in line with the law. And since then UWA was permitted to make permanent deployments at EIA with specialized dogs. The same goes for narcotics. However it goes unmentioned that weak laws which allow the culprits to be released on bail, or bond, or pay fines have done a disservice in the war against the vice since the same people tend to repeat the same.
ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE REVIEW
On the allegations and proposal that the Directorate of Airports and Aviation Security [DAAS] is not well managed on top suggesting a split, Bamwesigye & Co says that they can’t act on dictates of Jabbe but instead follow the dictates of their global mandate provided in ICAO’s Standards and recommended practices. Nevertheless, Bamwesigye & Co reveals that there is an ongoing organization structure review exercise based on functional analysis within the operating environment and as well dictated by financial resources and as well global trends audited by ICAO. The exercise is expected to be completed by December this year. Bamwesigye & Co also makes it clear that Jabbe’s suggestion is not in good faith but only has ulterior motives aimed at benefitting his cabal. “We cannot base this on Jabbe’s perceptions with their glaring biases and evidently targeting friends who have all along been known to build empires from which they will benefit for appointment as directors. This is the motivation behind these suggestions and allegations.”
To ally security fears raised by Jabbe, Bamwesigye&Co clarifies thus: “Your Excellency, Entebbe Airport’s security is prioritized by the National security committee chaired by the minister of security. There is a fully fledged department of aviation security at the Airport and right from inception the manager of the department is seconded from the Military. The current manager is Lt Col Allan Matsiko Murari. This department constitutes approximately 60% soldiers. The rest of 40% are civilians with basic military training conducted by the military as their initial training attained at entry. The airport security is provided for in layers. The inner layer which concerns UCAA and its highly regulated globally and covers land side, terminal and airside operations. It is premised on ICAO, which prescribes mandatory standards and recommended practices which states must comply with…and Uganda is doing well in both air traffic management and security. The second layer is presided over by an Inter-Agency Team code named Joint Security Operation Committee that draws membership from all security agencies and departments of the country. Then there is a third layer, the National Security Committee headed by the security minister.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
In our next publication, we shall reveal Jabbe’s allegations in regard to land grabbing at Entebbe and regional airports, corruption in capital grants projects and how Bamwesigye&Co debunked them.
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