Phone Operators' Head Accused of Extortion in Uganda

Telecoms

It took the intervention of chairperson Irene Ovonji and commissioner Sarah Bagalaaliwo to stop city phone operators from going for each other's throats. Accusations of intrigue, extortion, theft, intimidation and violence were thrown around before the probe into Kampala Central Division activities yesterday.

The local government probe commission, which sits at Workers House, was meeting directors of the five phone operators' associations for the third time. The associations are competing for members within the city.

The five are Kampala City Phone Operators Association (KCPOA), Phone Link, Uganda Phone Operators Association (UPOA), Federation of Phone Owners and Operators Savings Cooperative (FEPO) and Kampala Central Division Phone Operators Association (KCDPOA).

KCPOA chairman and former Kampala Youth Councillor Muhammad Nsegumire was accused by the other groups of masterminding a racket of extortion, causing them to form rival associations. They say while he was youth councillor, he applied excessive force and using a pistol, threatened all phone operators to subscribe to his association, Phonecom.

On his part, Nsegumire says he formed the first association in Kampala, to get jobs for "his" jobless youths. The commission, however, noted that most of the aggrieved phone operators, who have appeared before the probe, have accused Nsegumire of oppression.

Nsegumire of KCPOA accused his former member Lubanga Benjamin, of acquiring a loan of sh100,000 in KCPOA, before breaking off to form a splinter KCDPOA. Lubanga contends that after discovering that KCPOA was not registered, he went and registered his company, KCDPOA. KCDPOA charges sh25,000 for registration, sh5,000 for IDs and sh20,000 annual membership.

(Source: New Vision)