Uganda: Labour Export Firms Stuck As Recruitment System Crashes

A teacher attends to learners (file photo).
24 January 2019

Kampala — An online system, which government through Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development uses to vet labour export companies, confirm availability of jobs and counter human trafficking crashed through unclear circumstances.

As a result of this glitch, labour export firms in the country are currently stranded with thousands of Ugandans who were seeking employment abroad. The automated system called: The External Employment Management Information System, is a component of a broader labour management information system and labour market information analysis system developed by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development recently.

The development of the system came after complaints of mistreatment of Ugandans working in Arab countries. The government embarked on strengthening the collection, management and analysis of labour migration data, including information on labour demand and supply.

After the system crashed two weeks ago, the agencies that export labour to Middle East and other counties were forced to suspend operations because they could not get clearance from the ministry.

Sources close to the ministry told Daily Monitor that all the data on the database was wiped out. Although some officials within the Ministry of ICT suspect this problem to be the handiwork of hackers, Daily Monitor could not independently verify this narrative.

When contacted yesterday, officials from the Gender ministry said the website simply crashed because of what they called "internal technical problems."

One of the directors of a major labour export firm, who also spoke on condition of anonymity and did not want the name of the company disclosed, said for the last two weeks, he has been struggling to get clearance for his company to send workers abroad. He said more than 1,000 Ugandans are currently stranded.

Mr David Mugisha, the commissioner for labour at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, acknowledged that the ministry's system has been down for the last two weeks, but was quick to add that it was not hacked.

"Yes our website crashed and for the last two weeks [and] we were unable to clear the companies because we have been upgrading the system. It's true for the last two weeks we have not been clearing because we couldn't confirm from the receiving countries whether the jobs were there or not because the whole process is done online," he said.

Mr Ronny Mukundane, the communications manager at Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies, acknowledged the problem and said it is true a number of companies were unable to get clearance to send workers to Saudi Arabia.

"We had a system failure that clears the domestic workers to Saudi Arabia. But as we talk now, someone has just walked in from the ministry with clearances, so the issue is now sorted out," he said.

Saudi Arabian website also down

Our sources have confirmed to us that Saudi Arabian website that the country has been using to register domestic workers from Uganda has also been off for almost two weeks.

Musaned website was created by the Saudi government as a one stop centre for both the external recruitment agencies, and the Saudis to provide information on availability of jobs and their legalities and also offer information on genuine recruitment agencies.

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