On Saturday, April 4, 2020, more than 250 EU stranded citizens in Uganda, flew safely out from Entebbe to Cologne on a repatriation flight organised by the German Foreign Office.
We left on time. The pilots rev the engines, then darkness. The entire airport was in nearly total darkness compared to other international airports. While at the airport business class lounge, I needed to pee. I went to the washroom. I see the pee stalls and I could see the air hand dryer. Everything is impeccably clean. No rats, no rodents and I was just about to pass judgement.
Thank God, I delayed my assessment because something felt odd. I finish peeing; I needed to wash my hands but the sink was non-functional. No place to wash my hands despite this being a coronavirus pandemic period. The place seemed to be saying to me: just pee and take your flight. I look around again. Nothing, no water in the sink. In an airport lounge? The pearl of Africa? I draw the attention of the staff to this strange thing.
Ssebo, the airport is under renovation, just pee and bundle your package. That was his reply. In Doha and Dubai. The cleaners can even sanitize your hands and after wish you a safe journey. At Entebbe am told to bundle and leave. What a contrast. I did not bother to question or else I would lose my flight ticket of Shs 10 million for a one-way air ticket. (the most expensive air ticket I have ever bought in my entire life).
I have wisely learnt to look the foolish part when Ugandans masterfully and authoritatively rationalize the mediocrity of our condition. The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), has spent billions on it. However, they can’t fix a washing basin with running water and light the airport to the standards of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
They cannot conceptualize 21st century approaches. The Ugandan elites can disappoint at times. Lately, they have been chasing rats and rodents before moving on to chasing haters and involving in politics other than doing the talking.
Well, how will they think about the above, when they are the ones who award the contracts and collude with contractors to cut corners? If you cant fix a sink and running water, how will you find a solution to coronavirus or respect the SOPs. If your only business is peeing, you are completely at the mercy of those with a more urgent business. The airport staffs look in the mirror and reform.
The author works with Uganda Nordic Diaspora Investment Initiative (UNDII)