Airport Security a Life, Death Matter [editorial]

The Inspector General of Police generated unease after he was quoted in the media as saying that Entebbe International airport was at the mercy of terrorists last week.

Although the police have since ‘clarified’ Gen Kale Kayihura’s remarks, other sources at the passing-out of aviation security personnel at the Police Training School in Kabalye, Masindi, suggest that that was, indeed, the gist of the IGP’s remarks.

It was always going to prove disingenuous of the police chief to say that in public, given his position, but Kayihura’s comments have nevertheless generated debate and will hopefully lead to robust action on airport security in Uganda. In this era of increased terrorism, human and drug trafficking, there is no room to err at airports worldwide and Entebbe is no exception.

Only last month, Pakistan’s Jinnah International airport in Karachi was attacked by terrorists who left at least 25 people dead. Security forces battled for several hours to keep the assailants at bay and prevent further carnage. Meanwhile this week, reports emerged that two Ugandans had been hanged in China after being convicted and sentenced to death for being in possession of narcotic drugs.

Uganda’s only international airport must be ready to deal with not only terrorism but also other evils such as drug trafficking, human trafficking and trade in illicit goods such as ivory. Nevertheless, the fact that Entebbe has been largely safe for many years now suggests that the Civil Aviation Authority is doing a fairly good job and must be commended.

But airport security is bigger than CAA. The police themselves, the army, and, indeed, the entire government, must be involved, especially where vast sums of money are needed to purchase sophisticated security equipment.

Besides fighting terrorism and international crime, Uganda is positioning itself as a major tourism destination but tourists will not flock to a country where there is fear of insecurity. Therefore, even in its clarification, Kayihura’s outburst will be a blessing in disguise if it can wake up those concerned to focus on safety at Uganda’s gateway to the world.

Source : The Observer

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