Travelling by air is by far still a luxury in Uganda. Majority of first time travelers fore go quite a lot to secure enough funds for a trip, in various ways best known to them. But the entire story of passing through Entebbe International Airport has dirt coated to it, that a first timer might easily fall prey to incidentally.
On their way out or in transit to another country, travelers are cleared by Immigration Officials at the airport before they are allowed to proceed to their destinations. One is required to present their travel documents for clearance, with the officials checking them to determine that there is no inconsistency or forgery. However, the officials use this authority to extort money from desperate travelers, and those who fail to comply end up missing their flights without a clear reason.
What exactly happens?
There are several ways in which and several reasons for which money will be extorted from you by these officials. It is known that the exchange of money is not visible even to the cameras planted just above the desk. Sometimes those who pay the bribes are so used to the system that they don’t need to be sent to the side or asked for the money, while those that know little about it are caught up in the lines leading to security checks.
1. Flight Booking and Ticket Clearance
Most first time travelers confuse booking a flight and paying for an air ticket. You might book a flight with an airline and you receive all the travel documents defining your journey. If you don’t secure the air ticket, or probably pay but don’t ask for a receipt, an agent can intentionally delay clearing for your ticket.
You will prepare for the flight and go to airport to only find out you ain’t on the flight. The officials at the airport usually know the people to extort money from, and when you show up, they will find a way to put it that you can’t fly. At times the deal is set from the agents up to airport and remember without a receipt,there is no payment and that means no flying.
Way Forward: Always buy your tickets from the Airlines offices; don’t go to intermediary agents or travel agencies. You will notice that tickets bought from direct airlines offices are cheaper than those form travel agencies and when you buy from the airline direct, you will have first hand information of the confirmation of your flight and ticket, whether it is on standby, waiting list and all that. If you find the process too disturbing, you can avoid services of a ticketing office and do it yourself online.
2. What you should carry on the plane
Usually, if it is your first time to fly, you might know less or nothing about what to carry in your bags while on a flight. These immigration officials take advantage of such ignorance to confuse you and lure you into bribing them to take whatever you have on board.
Once they scan your bags and discover something out of the regular, they will find means of extorting money from you. Some usually claim that what you are carrying in your bags does not resemble you the handler, in a bid to make you prove whether you are worthy owning it.
Way Forward: Find out from the Airlines offices what is not allowed on the plane, and ensure that you carry only what is. When someone tries to convince you that it is only them meant to give your luggage a pass, ignore them and just ensure the safety of the bags.
3. Invalid health certificates
Someone will get hold of your yellow card, or any other health certification you may have, and assure you that you got a fake one, or that they no longer base on it and have a new documentation acquired within the airport premises. If you fall victim, they may end up quenching a few hundred dollars out of you, or the exact amount paid to acquire the certificate.
Way Forward: Just make sure you got your health documents and certification from the right place. when you reach the airport, it should be an argument for them.
4. Asking about who invited you.
They start asking different questions from the moment you enter the airport. One by one comes asking while you in the line leading to the security checks. Among these is an inquiry about who invited you to your destination country. If they get any loop hole in your explanations or documentation of the host, they begin from there in a bid to weaken your hopes and thus get something out of you.
Way Forward: Cross check with you host and ensure that all the documentation is valid and in set situation. If it is your first time to travel, go to the airport with someone that has ever taken the route so that they can guide you on answers to such questions.
Related Article: Use Free WiFi at Entebbe airport while you wait for your flight
5. Asking for how much upkeep you have.
The answer to this should be NOTHING. Because, any mention of a reasonable amount will keep these officials on your back in a bid to share something off that amount. And if someone tries to ask how you will make it with nothing, assure them that your host has enough of it all.
There is just a lot that you can find. And unless the Civil Aviation Authority does something, this vice wont come to stop.
Have you had any similar bad experience at the Entebbe International Airport? Tell us about it, or how you overcame it.