Starting today February 1st 2022, any person found caught presenting fake Covid-19 results at points of exit or within Uganda will be held temporarily as the laboratory that tested them pays an automatic fine of $3,000 (UGX 10.5 million) before it is allowed to continue operating.
Although the measure seems to be harsh, it is in line with international standards enforced by the International Civil Aviation Organisation –ICAO and the International Air Travel Association –IATA which automatically recover a fine of $3,000 from any airline that carries a passenger who does not qualify to fly. Such a passenger is one who for example holds a passport that is not valid, has a forged visa or one who is a terrorist.
The decision, arrived at last weekend by authorities from the National Covid-19 Task Force, Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, ministries of Transport and of Internal Affairs was necessitated by the seemingly harsh measures other countries have taken against airlines from countries prone to issuance of fake Covid-19 results. The most biting was the suspension by United Arab Emirates whose Dubai airport is a major gateway hub to the world, as Uganda was just starting to celebrate the opening of the route connection with Entebbe by Uganda Airlines.
The $3,000 automatic fine which hasn’t been yet been widely publicized has caused an internal uproar by the private laboratory service providers whose complaints have been ignored by the authorities. The irony in the matter is that health authorities at Entebbe have in recent days been distrusting test results issued by public labs, preferring those issued by private labs.
It has also emerged that the fake negative results are uttered by the corrupt laboratory managers who also have access to the national Covid-19 database servers, making the fake results they utter “officially” albeit wrong. (Meanwhile the database hasn’t even yen been able to capture more than a third of the people who have been vaccinated due to lack of data entry clerks, yet it has taking in fake test result uttered by labs instantly.)
The handling of Covid-19 tests is apparently also one of the issues that dampened the excitement that had been aroused by the announcement of the re-opening of the Rwanda-Uganda land border. While cargo trucks started crossing at Katuna border point, travelers were since yesterday not allowed to cross, with the exception of those holding Rwanda national IDs.
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