By Joshua Kato
There are at least ten big car bonds lining around areas of Nakawa, Nitnda, Banda, Kyambogo and Industrial area. To an ordinary Ugandan, those bonds are actually selling ‘brand new cars’.
However a closer look at the vehicles lined up in most of these bonds shows that most of the vehicles are over 10 years old-some like the famous Toyota Hiaces that is used for mainly Passenger Services over 20 years old.
This means that if the ban on importation of vehicles older than 7 years is enforced, all these bonds would simply close shop in their current state.
Only government vehicles may stay on the roads if such ban is implemented, since the government does not import vehicles that are older than five years.
“We know the proposed ban will affect many Ugandans because they cannot afford to buy brand new cars, but at least there must be a policy to prevent the cars in a very poor condition from getting into the Ugandan market,” Micheal Werikhe, Chairperson of the natural resources committee of parliament said.
The bonds are filled with the popular Toyota Ipsums, Toyota Touring, Subaru Foresters, Toyota Duets, Toyota Allex, with the latest of these being model 2003. To a Ugandan, a 2003 model is ‘brand new’ and it is difficult to convince the ordinary Ugandan that this is now 10 years old.
“The Ipsum 2003 model has got ‘new eyes’ and nobody will convince me that it is too old to come to Uganda. If it is old then what is new?” asks Abbey Ssebunya, a car dealer.
On the morning of May 16th, this reporter stood for over 20 minutes along 3rd Street industry area, watching vehicles zooming past, and trying to count which of them could qualify under the new law.
First, an Isuzu Canter UAM…drove passed carrying private security men, it was a 1991 model, it was followed by a Toyota Hilux UAA….it was a 1995 model, then a Mark II UAQ…drove passed, it was a 1998 model.
These were followed by a Toyota Corsa 1995, a Super Custom 1995, a Toyota Noah UAR…that is the ‘latest’ on the Ugandan roads, but is a 2002 model, a Land cruiser TX UAT…2000 model, then a government owned Mitsubishi L200 2007 model….
The conclusion was that perhaps only government can buy brand new vehicles. According to the latest Ministry of Transport and Works statistics, there are close to 1m vehicles in Uganda and of these at least 40,000 are owned by government.
There is a very big price gap between a used car and a brand new car. In other words, the newer the car, the more expensive it is.
At Bafta car dealers of Japan, an Ipsum 2007 model, that will be least accepted if the ban comes into force goes for an average US$14,500 or at least sh40m before taxes while a model 1998 Ipsum goes for an average US$1,500 or sh4m before taxes.
At the same car dealership, a Subaru Forester 2007 model goes for an average US$18,000 or sh50m before taxes compared to a 1998 model that goes for an average US$1,500 or sh4m before taxes. This applies to all the other vehicle models.
If one is to go for 2010 to 2013 models, the average cost of a Toyota Hilux pick up may cost over US$40,000 or sh125m before taxes according to a source at Toyota Uganda, a Toyota Premio 2010 costs US$30,000 on average before taxes too.
“Given the manner in which we buy our cars and that is through salary loans mainly, an ordinary employee will not be able to own a car since the average salary loan he can get is sh15 to 20m,” says a journalist who imported a car direct from Japan a few months ago.
Because his Ipsum was a 1998 model, it cost him less than sh10m after registration. The ban will hence forth mean less cars on the road.