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Two URA enforcement officers injured in clash with locals in Zombo

The incident when happened locals who included boda-boda riders were angered by the officers’ move to impound the numberless motorcycles at the border towns of Zombo District.

The UPDF officers display their injuries on May 12, 2023. PHOTO/COURTESY

ZOMBO, UGANDA: At least two UPDF officers attached to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) enforcement unit were on Friday evening injured in a violent clash with angry locals in Zombo Town Council, Zombo district.

The incident when happened locals who included boda-boda riders were angered by the officers’ move to impound the numberless motorcycles at the border towns of Zombo District.

Mr Sylvester Kiwanuka, the URA Customs Manager for Northern Ugandaconfirmed the incident and said that the two soldiers were attacked with stones by boda boda riders who also damaged their car.

“The incident happened in Zombo District when our enforcement teams were stoned by residents while trying to cause an arrest on unregistered motorcycles. Unfortunately, two of our enforcement teams were injured by the angry residents,” Mr Kiwanuka said.

URA has long battled with Zombo District Boda boda riders in a bid to collect taxes although some of the riders complained of high taxes in acquiring number plates that go for about Shs1.3 million.

According to one of the boda-boda riders in the area, it is true that most of the youth are operating boda boda business with numberless motorcycles from DR Congo due to the high cost of acquiring a number plate in Uganda.

The boda boda rider, Charles Bithum, adds that he got a Shs3 million loan from their Emyooga group Sacco and crossed to DR Congo where he bought a numberless motorcycle with a plan to start processing the Ugandan number plate.

“The motorcycle was impounded after three months, making me unemployed. The government should reduce the cost of acquiring the number plate to at least Shs750,000 and this will make many to acquire the number plates,” Bithum said.

Zombo Town Council LC3 chairman Naftali Ocama urged residents to desist from attacking revenue collectors since taxes are the base of development.

Last month, in Parombo Town Council, two boda boda riders were seriously injured following scuffles between URA enforcement and boda boda riders who lacked number plates.

Parombo Town Council LC3 chairman Ronald Thomwa is now encouraging URA to sensitize boda boda riders on processes leading to number plate acquisition.

“Most of the youth are riding numberless motorcycles due to the unaffordability of the numbered plates. Government should reduce the cost of processing number plates,” he remarked.

In March 2021, an officer attached to URA only identified as Sgt Amin died after he was beaten as he was addressing Zombo District residents regarding the rampant smuggling of goods from DR-Congo and South Sudan.

URA says it loses about Shs3 billion annually in uncollected tax due to illicit trade in the West Nile sub-region.

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