UCAA Benchmarked by Publicists on Crisis Management at Entebbe Airport

Members of the Public Relations Association of Uganda-PRAU have made a benchmarking tour of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority- UCAA at Entebbe International Airport following complaints of corruption, extortion, rude treatment, and lengthy bureaucracies among others.

Publicists said they always valued learning from one another and the performance of an organization as big and important as the UCAA was no mean achievement in this respect.

PRAU President Tina Wamala who led the team said UCAA had gone through a lot and it was an experience worthwhile for members to take lessons on the handling of the different crises the organization had gone through.

CAA Public Affairs Manager Vianney Luggya took the team through the several crises the organization has faced from the beginning of this year and before, emphasizing the importance of timely and consistent responses whenever there was negative feedback or complaints from the public or clients to avoid escalating of a problem.

UCAA has been severally in the spotlight, beginning with viral social media outcry in January and February about corruption and extortion by staff at the airport, leading to some travelers missing flights on flimsy grounds among other complaints.

In some of the social media posts, victims posted videos of some staff taking bribes leading to some dismissals. However, UCAA said some of the posts had been stage managed or scenarios at other airports posted as having taken place at Entebbe.

The organization was at pains to explain that there were different actors/departments operating at the airport and led stakeholder engagements with the immigration, Health Ministry, Gender ministry, internal affairs ministry, and others in singular and joint actions to bring the situation back to normal.

Staff were among other things prohibited from holding cellular phones while on duty and also ordered to put on branded wear with their names tags. Contacts of top managers of the different departments were also shared out to enable the public to report abuse.

Luggya said it was important to act as a team and be flexible in strategy where one line of action fails to yield results. He added that it was important for organizations to own up if there was a genuine complaint. He said that some of the problems could be avoided at the policy-making level instead of doing firefighting to address a crisis.

Uganda National Examinations Board Communication Manager, Jennifer Kalule, said members had greatly benefitted from benchmarking visits, whose findings they would replicate in their organisations.

Kalule who is also deputy executive secretary of PRAU was happy to note that the Public Affairs manager at UCAA sits in top management, a practice she noted makes it easier for communicators to defend policy and avoid policy crises.

He urged other organizations and companies to learn from this and elevate communication to the top management level.

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