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Labor Recruiting Companies in Trouble over non-Externalized Ugandans to Saudi Arabia

By Amon Baita

Over 200 Local external recruitment agencies are in trouble over failure to externalize domestic workers to Saudi Arabia yet they received advance payments from Saudi agencies before Covid 19 lockdown came into force early this year.

The revelation was made by Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA)’s chairman Mr. Baker Akantambira while speaking at Uganda Labor Externalization stake holders meeting on Wednesday at Hotel Africana in Kampala.

Akantambira noted that the employing agencies in Saudi Arabia have since expressed their concerns through Saudi Arabian Embassy in Uganda to contact all recruitment agencies here and make them refund all monies advanced to them to supply labor to Saudi if they have failed to fulfill their promise of supplying the required labor immigrants on time after Airports were open and Labor externalization sector has also since been opened by the government of Uganda.

“The agencies the other side have tasked their embassy to contact our recruitment agencies to see if they can recover their monies but we are worried because most of the companies are indebted due to lockdown losses that were incurred out of accumulated rental arrears ,employees’ salaries plus loan interests” ,He noted .

He added that by the time Covid lock down came into force many companies had received advance partial payments from Saudi Arabia agencies which was used to process passports, Interpol certificates, accommodation of girls who were to travel, visas and air tickets but the story has since changed because the girls who did not travel have since changed their minds and others got pregnant or married so the companies here have registered huge losses as the industry resumes business.

Akantambira also expressed concerns that government red tape has also made it hard for the companies to process these girls travel documents like approvals and Interpol due to un necessary delays especially from Interpol where certificates that got expired after 6 months during lock down need to be renewed before the domestic workers can be allowed to travel.

“Police Interpol department has all the necessary prerequisites for all our candidates whose certificates expired and we wish they can create a system where we can take all the old certificates and are immediately replaced without having candidates to physically go there for fresh registrations and going through all due process”,Akatambira questioned before asking why ministry of labor has kept on insisting for the house maids to have an Interpol certificate as one of the prerequisite requirements for them to travel yet they have documents certified by DISO and RDC at the district level.

He asked government to intervene and engage the Saudi embassy at a diplomatic level so that companies can at least be given payment plans to help them from being frustrated and squeezed out of business.

The Deputy Director of Interpol Commissioner Obona Joseph said that they have been having an influx of applicants yet they have to observe Covid SOPS of social distancing but are working on the current digital system to a more fast and efficient one that can work on big numbers than the current one.

He noted that soon Interpol is likely to ask recruiting companies to submit a list of all their candidates’ expired certificates pending for renewal through their umbrella body Uganda Association of external recruitment agencies (UAERA).

Ministry of Labor, Gender and Social Development Permanent Secretary Aggrey David Kibenge thanked the UAERA leadership and members for being organized and promised them support in working together to build a strong Labor externalization sector in their quest to help young Ugandans get gainfully employment that safeguards their dignity and rights.

“I did not understand the reason of exporting labor before I came to the ministry, It’s after I joined that I found out the value as well as the challenges in the externalization of labor sector and it’s now my task to ensure that work collectively to tackle these challenges so that with time the sector becomes resourceful for every stake holder”,. Kibenge noted.

He promised to engage every stake holder until the system is streamlined through which Ugandans can travel to work safely in those countries but also indicated that government was engaging other countries like Qatar, Turkey ,Oman and Kingdom of Bahrain to sign bilateral agreements that will see more job markets open for Ugandans.

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