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Terrorism – Entebbe May ‘Lose Big Airlines’

Lax security and lack of sophisticated equipment to detect new forms of explosives may drive international airlines away from Entebbe airport, the police has warned.

Lodovick Awita, the Aviation police commandant, said last month that major airlines such as British Airways may soon avoid Uganda if Entebbe does not meet stringent security standards that come into force this month.

“These days terrorists have liquid explosives, and we don’t have capacity to detect them,” Awita said at the Police Training School in Masindi.

Awita spoke during the graduation of 49 Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) security officers trained in counter-terrorism work. He later told The Observer that the European Union (EU) had set standards and that all member countries must have specific hi-tech gadgets capable of detecting dangerous items in both solid and liquid form. Uganda, he said, does not have such equipment.

“We only work on assumptions. When we become suspicious, we check the passengers and yet the technology is there,” Awita said.

Police chief Kale Kayihura said Uganda had no choice but to invest in technology especially in sensitive places such as airports which are targeted by terrorists.

“Today in America, the walk-through machines can x-ray you up to your bones. The technology is there. We can acquire it. In some places here, the scanners and walk-through machines are not working you can pass through them with a pistol,” Gen Kayihura said.

Kayihura said Entebbe airport lacked adequate lighting and a g perimeter fence to keep away intruders. He requested the management of CAA and the Joint Security committee to deploy armed police officers at the fence of the airport.

But CAA Public Relations Officer Iginie Igundura said he was not aware that major airlines could abandon Entebbe. The head of human resource management at CAA, Fred Bamwesigye, said they were doing everything possible to acquire modern security equipment at the airport.

Source : The Observer

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