Motor dealers protest Gov’t move to implement digital number plates

According to the proposed regulations, the fee for obtaining a new digital license plate will be UGX 735,000 for both motorcycles and vehicles.

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Associated Motor Dealers (AMD) have opposed the government’s decision to introduce digital number plates that is set to take effect from July 1st, 2023.

In a meeting held at their offices at UMA showgrounds, the association, which represents bond owners and various private stakeholders in the transport sector, expressed their discontent over the lack of consultation before the implementation of this new system.

Responding to the concerns raised by AMD, the Ministry of Works and Transport called for a meeting with the association, scheduled to take place on June 14th, 2023, at Ssendawula Hall, URA offices at 9:00 am.

The meeting aims to provide a platform for stakeholders to express their opinions on the government’s move to issue digital number plates to all vehicles and motorcycles in Uganda.

One of the main points of contention for AMD is the cost associated with the new digital number plates. “Previously, the cost of a number plate ranged between UGX 50,000 and UGX 60,000. However, with the introduction of dual number plates for motorcyclists, the cost doubled to UGX 125,000. The implementation of digital number plates is expected to further increase the price,” one member said

While the government’s intention behind the digital number plates is commendable, concerns about data privacy have arisen among stakeholders. Many are uncertain about how the government plans to use the private information collected through these plates, raising questions about individual tracking without consent.

According to the proposed regulations, the fee for obtaining a new digital license plate will be UGX 735,000 for both motorcycles and vehicles.

This substantial increase in cost will not only impact the livelihoods of riders in the bodaboda sector, where over 80% of them rely on loaned motorcycles with high-interest rates, but it will also lead to unemployment for private tracking device companies and asset financing firms.

In response to these challenges, AMD members are considering rejecting the regulations and advocating for a return to the drawing board. There are concerns that private digital tracking companies will lose business once the government assumes the role of surveillance over motor vehicles.

During the meeting, the chairman of AMD announced that three representatives, one from motorcycles, one from vehicles, and one from e-commerce, will attend the discussions. The lack of consultation with technocrats and consumers during the formulation of the regulations was also raised, highlighting the top-down approach taken by the government.

The meeting also addressed the contentious issue of the Uganda Revenue Authority’s directive to offer free space to the Joint Stock Company ‘ Global Security’ for the installation of tracking system devices. The question of who would bear the cost of this installation, especially at the private bond owners’ facilities and motor dealers, sparked a heated debate.

Additionally, concerns were raised about the process of installing the tracking systems in imported motorcycles, which are assembled in Uganda. The designated places for installation also raised issues of asset risk and competition among stakeholders.

Furthermore, the time required for installation could adversely affect the sales of the companies involved. This issue was discussed extensively, emphasizing the need for effective coordination and planning.

Phase two of the vehicle registration functions is set to transition from the Uganda Revenue Authority to the Ministry of Works and Transport in the upcoming financial year, commencing on July 1st, 2023.

This change aligns with the government’s implementation of an intelligent transport monitoring system (ITMS) aimed at combating vehicle-related crimes. The system will be provided by the joint stock company Global Security.

In conclusion, AMD’s impromptu meeting sheds light on the widespread concerns and discontent among stakeholders regarding the government’s decision to implement digital number plates.

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