China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) that is undertaking Shs713 billion renovations at Entebbe International Airport is in trouble for failure to respect rights of people with disabilities at the site.
This followed a complaint raised by Rose Mutonyi, Bubulo West MP, over what she alleged was a humiliating treatment of one user of the national airport.
Mutonyi narrated of an incidence that took place on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, when one white passenger was forced to shout on top of his voice, demanding for a carrier to carry his luggage because of the disruptions in the renovations.
“Are we going to have that type of treatment for the old and disabled? It is happening to our people every day. Something needs to be done otherwise, nothing is going to talk for them,” Mutonyi said.
Her counterpart, Mbale Municipality MP Wamai Wamanga, warned that failure by government to address the concerns will render its efforts to attract tourists to Uganda.
“We are trying to convince people to come here, but if that person goes back and narrates of his ordeal, then such a thing can do minus,” Mr. Wamanga said.
Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chief Whip defended the Executive, arguing that sometimes such conveniences are inevitable when any site is undergoing any form of renovations.
“I want to assure the country that this will stop because the project has a timeframe, but this doesn’t mean we will not check. Will ensure Minister is on ground because Entebbe is our eye and ensure our people aren’t inconvenienced,” Nankabirwa said.
However, William Nzoghu, the Shadow Works Minister, wondered if there aren’t any other measures that can be undertaken to help people in the meantime.
“We have been to other airports and you still have a service that is descent, why isn’t it applicable to Ugandan situation?” Nzoghu wondered.
Hellen Asamo, the Persons With Disabilities Representative Eastern Region, joined the debate saying that services for the people with disability are offered selectively.
“There is critical need for people in Uganda to wake up. I think it is an issue of negligence not renovation,” Asamo argued, prompting Nankabirwa to respond by saying the inconveniences are temporary.
However, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah said there was no need for Parliament to go forth and back with the matter because when contractors are handed sites, they have to ensure alternatives are created.
“It is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure the convenient ways are in existence. It is a matter that doesn’t need to be debated. Why are they making people suffer like that?” Oulanyah asked.
It should be recalled that renovations on Entebbe Airport started in May 2017 and the project is estimated to cost over US$ 200 million, approximately Shs713b.
The scope of works will involve construction of a new cargo terminal and strengthening the runway.