Embarrassed at the reactions that went viral on social media which took to poking fun at Ugandans came the veiled statement whereby, while rebuking the errant passenger, the airline also suggested adding the local delicacy Nsenene (long-horned grasshoppers) on their menu for regional and international flights.
“We have picked lessons from the incident. Some of our customers enjoy Nsenene,” an airline statement read. “We are considering adding Nsenene, a local Ugandan delicacy, on our menu for regional and international flights on request. This addition of Nsenene shall bring the Ugandan culture to the world. The move will boost tourism marketing and the livelihood of people in the grasshopper value chain going forward.”
Uganda Airlines, however, warned against reoccurrences of such conduct onboard, warning that exposing passengers to such unruly market experience onboard shall result in the passenger being offloaded without further consideration.
The Uganda Airlines Public Relations Manager, Shakira Rahim, said in a televised interview on NTV that the airline shall question the said passenger upon his return to send a signal to passengers who conduct themselves in a unpalatable manner onboard. She defended the crew whom she said had tried to refrain the gentleman to give room for embarking passengers. “You can never do that on an international flight, because there are passengers onboard who are going to continue their journey elsewhere. Food that has not gone through our standard and quality checks is not allowed onboard; that is the issue, and that is the standard,” Rahim said.
Commenting on the same, Public Affairs Manager of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Vianney Lugya, said: “Grasshoppers are not among the list of prohibited items. It is, therefore, not a security matter that grasshoppers ended up on an aircraft. The only issue to be looked into is how the passenger conducted themselves on an aircraft. The only circumstance that is looked into is if the country where the aircraft is proceeding to prohibits that item.”
A furious Minister of Works and Transport, General Katumba Wamala, under whose docket the airline falls, did not mince his words at cracking the whip by ordering disciplinary action on the staff who were on duty at the time of the incident. Wamala tweeted: “About the video making rounds on social media of someone vending Nsenene aboard @UG_Airlines, I have spoken to the leadership of the airline to take action against the staff who were in charge when this happened.” General Wamala has presided over the airline since his appointment in 2019, and the last thing he would tolerate is blemish on the airline.
eTN has since learned that Paul Mubiru, the trader in question, despite making a public apology, has been arrested when immigration officers at the arrivals section at Entebbe International Airport swung into action upon his return from Dubai today, November 19,, 2021 at 11:49 am. He was detained at the airport police station and is awaiting charges. Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), to which he belongs, has also weighed in on the matter by vowing to punish Mubiru who is also a purchasing agent on behalf of several city traders.
For some, Mubiru may be seen as a hero judging by the passengers – mainly Ugandan traders that ply the Dubai route for trade – including a couple of Chinese passengers who partook in purchasing the delicacy. To others, he is a villain worthy of contempt for embarrassing the nation. To them, such manners are a preside of ground passengers on public buses where preaching and trading in items
from soft drinks, remedies for potency, hypertension, and diabetes all in one, are commonly dispensed by traditional or self-proclaimed doctors with no inhibitions whatsoever.
Mubiru may well be vindicated by history if the airline makes good on their promise to add those delicious critters to their inflight specials.