Uganda – Why govt suspended eight labour export companies

Mamos Media

Some of the Ugandan workers at Entebbe International Airport on October 22, 2019. PHOTO/ ABUBAKER LUBOWA

By Franklin Draku

Government through ministries of Internal Affairs and Gender, Labour and Social Development on Monday announced the suspension of eight external labour recruitment agencies, citing forgeries and other abuses such as trafficking and extortion.  

 Some companies had their licences terminated after expiry and  over forged documents, two others were suspended for illegally charging prospective recruits without securing jobs for them while others were punished for engaging in trafficking and other offences.
 Sahara Recruitment Ltd  and Top Notch Recruitment Services Ltd had their renewal terminated for submitting forged tax clearance certificates. 

Fly International Jobs (U) Ltd and Al-Saud Agency Ltd were suspended for submitting fake bank guarantees during licence renewal.
Middle East Consultants Ltd  and The Eagles Supervision Ltd  had accumulated claims of refund/extortion.
On the other hand, Ridar Uganda Ltd  was suspended  over its staff involvement in attempted human trafficking while Forbes Enterprises Ltd for irregular externalisation (bypassed Musaned System to externalize domestic workers to Saudi Arabia). 

Yesterday, Mr Aggrey David Kibenge, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Gender, Labour and Social Development, was unable to respond to our calls as he was locked in meetings.
However, a senior official in the Labour directorate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that although only eight companies have faced the knife many are under close supervision. 

 “There are many more that are being monitored. These companies connive with our staff, police and immigration officials and traffic the girls out of the country. Many die in slavery while a few have been rescued so all those will be routed out,” the source said. 
The source added: “Majority of these companies are owned by either people who are highly connected, or are directly in charge of many entities in this country so they get away with it [abuses].” 

In January 2019, insiders hacked into the ministry’s external recruitment information management system and made away with sensitive documents.
According to the source, a number of companies were implicated in colluding with the insiders and that in the process many girls  were trafficked and shipped out of the country.

 However, the source didn’t verify whether the suspended companies benefited from the trafficking or not.
 “You never know until maybe later. I am not here to say that, but you cannot also rule this out,” the source said.
Another source told this newspaper that the connection extends to Entebbe airport where the recruitment agencies collude with airport staff and immigration officials to traffic the girls out of the country.

“Maybe the suspension of some of these companies will expose the rot that stretches to the airports and other border points. Sometimes we get this information and pass it to the concerned authorities but nothing is done. Let’s wait to see what happens,” the source said.

Agencies speak out
The Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) yesterday said the affected companies cannot engage in any business unless they are cleared.
Mr Ronnie Mukundane, the UAERA public relations officer, said while the suspensions remain in force, they will work with other agencies to ensure that the affected companies comply.

“You are aware that the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development’s mandate includes licensing, suspending and enforcing and they follow the law. If you are found operating outside the law, this is what happens. As UAERA, one of our roles is to self-regulate to ensure that whatever these companies do falls within the set regulations,” he said.

He added: “Those suspended remain our members but cannot transact business. As an enforcer of the law, if you are suspended, your documents cannot pass through UAERA.” 
 Mr Gordon Mugyenyi, the managing Director of Middle East Consultants, said: “We are under the ministry of Labour.  The Ministry of Internal Affairs doesn’t give us licences so we don’t know how they can suspend us.” 

Source Daily Monitor.

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