Indian association denies charging exorbitant flight fares to Ugandan returnees


FlyDubai plane is expected to return Ugandan nationals according to IAU officials. Courtesy photo.

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Jinja—2, July 2020: The Indian Association Uganda (IAU), a not- for- profit organization, has distanced self from the alleged exploitation of Ugandans who are stranded in India following global lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reports reaching us say some members of the association with officials from the Uganda High Commission in India are taking advantage of the desperate Ugandans to make them pay hefty air ticket fares.

While Air Tanzania has subsidized to as low as US$650 to repatriate individual Ugandans, the “sharp group” is earning big by charging US$910 making a profit of US$340 per passenger flight from New Delhi to Entebbe.

In a communication to the embassy, the Air Tanzania management gives details of charges of business and economy classes in which the 252 passengers will be repatriated from Bombay to Entebbe.

The memo signed by Edward Nkwabi on behalf of the airlines, indicates that the Ugandans who include embassy officials, students, patients and their attendants, among others, will step foot on motherland this Saturday 4 July 2020.

Although several passengers have got wind of the offer by the airlines, most of them are disturbed why the Ugandan High Commission officials for “charging them higher”.

Credible sources say the scheme started by some Indian officials asking the Ugandans to exit a certain WhatsApp group called “Let’s Travel Back Home” that originally had both Indians and Africans membership.

The group was meant to update the trapped people on the travel arrangements, but the administrators forced them out and the embassy created a new WhatsApp group called “Repatriation India to Uganda.”

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After this, it is reported that the embassy has now come out with new charges and shared with the Ugandans. This issue has now become “a stingy one”, sources say, citing the financial challenges following the lockdown.

However, the Association officials have denied involvement and knowledge in the charges, saying they are not part of the embassy arrangements.

“We are using Air Dubai to repatriate the people who are both Ugandans and Indians, so we have nothing to do with Air Tanzania,” the association chairman, Mr Mohan Rao has said.

Rao, together with the association General Secretary, Mr La Vaheed Tamil Sangam explain that they are simply trying to help people who have been trapped in various cities in India.

“We are not out to exploit anybody, we are merely facilitating the processes so that these people come back and also arrange for them places for quarantine as a standard requirement,” Sangam told TND News in a telephone interview.

The two have justified the extra charges meant to cater for some administrative issues that could arise as the embassy arranges for the people to travel back home since some of them have expired visas.

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