UGANDA (eTN) – Reports are coming in from Jinja that staff at Uganda’s national Hotel and Tourism Training Institute, located at the Crested Crane Hotel, have put down their tools and are demanding payment for salary arrears and other dues, which according to one source have been outstanding in some cases for several months.
Insiders were swift to blame the government for the mess the institute is in and one communicated to this correspondent: “Since this school was moved from the Ministry of Education, things were never the same again. At least you fought tooth and nail for our dues and benefits when you were Chairman of the Institute. But as usual, government could not listen to the right people and had to take the school back to tourism. Now there is no enabling law because the HTTI Statute was rescinded when the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act came into effect. But government failed to re-enact that original law. They also failed to implement the tourism levy which was meant to help finance training institutions like HTTI.
“Students have complained about the legality of conferring diplomas and certificates to them. They ask under what law is that happening when there is no law. Tourism and hospitality training is at risk completely in Uganda.
“You and your board at the time were so close to get us land to build a new school and get HTTI into the new university as a constituent college. Nothing has ever happened since you left. All we hear is promises and empty talk. I remember we complained when the principal back then spent so much time in Kampala but now it is clear that was the only way to get money from Education at the time and keep us afloat. But now there is no longer that unselfish sense of duty to better the institution.
“We need our money, there is rent to pay, there are fees to be paid for our kids going to school, there is food needed at home. How to do that when we are owed such a lot of salaries?”
In the past it was often the students threatening strikes over a range of issues, so this is a novel situation that the staff, including lecturers employed directly by HTTI and not on the government public service payroll, are resorting to strike action as a last resort, having reportedly failed to get a sympathetic hearing from their home ministry or have promises made fulfilled.
Quo Vadis Uganda – time to get serious about ALL aspects of tourism in this country, especially tourism and hospitality training to fully benefit from the country’s enormous potential to become East Africa’s leading tourism destination, especially in a year when National Geographic has put The Pearl of Africa on top as a country to be visited in 2013.