Saturday, 17 August 2019

UGANDA: Another Tour Operator Detained For Conning Tourists

The Chief Executive Director of Gatatu Safaris Limited, Richard Tusasibwe has been arrested for allegedly obtaining money by false pretence from tourists.

Tusasiibwe who runs the tour company based in Kigezi sub region was arrested on Monday at around 10:00AM by heavily armed tourist police officers led by Tourism Police Commander-in-charge of Kigezi Region, Emmanuel Tinka.

He was detained at Kabale police station before being paraded before the Kigezi region police detectives later in the afternoon for about three hours.

Police say Tusasibwe is alleged to have signed a contract worth 2150 US dollars equivalent to about shillings 7.9 million with a tourist identified as Dr. Lentschig Markus Gunter, a German national to facilitate a tour with his four family members in Uganda.

Tusasibwe received the whole amount after signing the contract with Gunter.

The contract also required Tusasibwe to pick the tourists from Entebbe International Airport and drive them to Kisoro town as well as booking them accommodation, trekking permits, Park fees, Gorilla and chimpanzee tracking permit, game and boat drive fees, rhino sanctuaries and taxes among others.

Marcus paid a deposit of USD2000 equivalent to Uganda Shillings 7.4million to Tusasibwe to help him on bookings and cleared the balance on July 25, 2019 when he arrived in Uganda.

However, when the tourists reached Kisoro town, Tusasibwe reportedly abandoned them at Chameleon Hill Hotel, switched off his phones and disappeared.

The tourists were shocked to find that Tusasibwe did not book for them accommodation, despite having received full payment. It is when they reported the matter to police for help that Tusasibwe was tracked.

Elly Maate, police spokesperson for Kigezi region says that Tusasibwe had been on the run until Monday when he was arrested while hiding in Lake Bunyonyi.

Maate says that the suspect will face the law after investigations into the matter are complete.

The case is registered at Kabale Police station under file number CRB 1180/2019.

On July 31, 2019, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during a press conference on operation wealth creation held at State Lodge Makanga in Kabale district ordered for the the arrest of tour operators who cheat tourists and described them as enemies of the country.

Tusasibwe had earlier said refuting all the allegations saying that they had agreed that he is paid shillings 7.3 million but was paid only shillings 5.5 million after the tourists said that they would book the accommodation themselves.

Tusasibwe also denied abandoning the tourists, but says he separated with them after failing to agree on contract terms and conditions.

In February, Didan Atukunda a resident of Kabale district and a tour operator from Mamba Gorilla Safari was arrested after he failed to refund 99 million shillings that was mistakenly sent to his account by a Dutch tourist for a gorilla trekking trip.

Peter Nickilin from the Netherlands paid 110 million shillings instead of 11 million shillings for a trip to trek Gorillas in October 2017.

Tourism Observer

KENYA: Fly540 Tyre Gets Stuck In Pothole, Pilot Aborts Take off

A Fly540 pilot was forced to abort take-off after realising one of the plane’s tyre was stuck in a pothole on the runway at the Manda Airport in Lamu County, southeastern Kenya.

The 36 scared passengers aboard the Nairobi-bound plane disembarked during the Sunday 12.30pm incident. No one was hurt.

Engineers and other airport staff were called and had to dig the plane’s left tyre out of the pothole using shovels and hoes.

The plane was about to take-off but it was difficult. The pilot had to stop abruptly especially after realising that one of the plane’s tyres was stuck in a huge pothole on the runway.

Engineers and airport staff had to be called and assisted in pushing the plane out and parked it at a safer location on the runway from where it was finally able to take-off safely.

All was fine as the plane taxied on the runway ready for take-off.

Trouble came just seconds as the plane started to lift its wings in readiness to fly. We saw the tyre on the left side stuck inside a huge hole on the runway.

We thank God that the pilot acted swiftly and switched off the engine of the plane. It was a scary moment said an eye witness.

A Fly540 official who spoke to journalists at the Manda Airport said checks were made later to ensure the plane was in good condition after the incident.

The plane was to take-off at exactly 12.30pm but the issue caused a delay. It took off at 12.54pm after checks were made to ensure the incident hadn’t created any other issue that could interfere with the flight.

Following the Sunday incident, travelling agencies, tourist stakeholders and passengers have called on the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to urgently intervene and reconstruct the Manda Airport runway.

The airport was put on the spotlight in 2017, when Kenya Airways' low-cost airline Jambojet suspended flights citing dilapidated conditions.

At the time, Jambojet said the apron, taxiway and runway were in bad shape, making it difficult for aircrafts to land or take-off.

Aviation stakeholders said the poor state of the airport puts lives at risk.

We’ve raised the issue concerning the poor state of our airport, particularly the runway but our calls over the years to have it reconstructed have not been successful.

As we speak, the airport runway is covered in massive potholes which continue to pose a danger to navigation. Should we wait until a fatal accident occurs?

Mr Ibrahim Abdalla, a tour guide, called for expansion of the airport saying visits to Lamu have increased.

The high tourist season has already begun and the Manda Airport seems to be overwhelmed with the increased number of carriers plying the region. It’s better they reconstruct and expand the airport and also introduce 24-hour operations. Lamu is growing, said Mr Abdalla.

Tourism Observer