I signed vehicle tracking deal under presidential directive, says Muhwezi
He explained that prior to the award of the contract to the company, the Government sent a team to conduct due diligence ...
By Henry Sekanjako and Moses Mulondo
Journalists @New Vision
Security minister Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi has told Parliament that he signed the controversial vehicle tracking deal between Uganda and a Russian company following a presidential directive.
Muhwezi has recently been under attack by the public, particularly on social media, over signing a deal with the Russian company, which critics claim is bankrupt.
However, in a personal statement to Parliament on Thursday, Muhwezi denied any influence in signing the deal, saying his actions were based on President Yoweri Museveni’s directive to him to fast-track the signing of the deal.
“Prior to my swearing-in as a minister, I received a presidential directive on June 13 to have the contract, which had been pending, signed with haste. I wrote to the permanent secretary in the Office of the President on June 24, asking him to ensure that all processes are efficiently and expeditiously finalised,” Muhwezi said.
The signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Government and Joint Stock Company Global Security happened on July 23, this year to implement the smart tracking project for a period of 10 years.
Following the attempted assassination of works and transport minister, Gen. Katumba Wamala, Museveni called for expeditious installation of digital trackers in all vehicles and motorcycles in the country.
According to Muhwezi, the procurement of the Russian company to install the vehicle trackers begun four years ago, long before his appointment as security minister.
He explained that prior to the award of the contract to the company, the Government sent a team to conduct due diligence on the aforementioned company in December 2018.
“Over the four years, several meetings were held between different government agencies to assess the proposal from the said company. Negotiations were done between several agencies and the company and, as a result of these protracted meetings, an MOU was signed,” Muhwezi said.
He explained that the attempted assassination of Gen. Katumba created urgency to have the project signed so that the vehicle tracking system could be installed.
“I had no prior knowledge even before I was appointed minister. In fact, I had no prior knowledge of Government plan to put tracking devices in motor vehicles beyond what was said by the President on June 20,” Muhwezi said.
Vehicle tracking involves mounting tracking GPS chips in all automobiles in the country. It will also require re-registration of all vehicles, motorcycles and boats.
The Joint Stock Company Global Security, which won the contract, is, however, said to be facing multiple bankruptcy proceedings in Moscow.
The Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, however, has since dismissed the allegations, saying the company is financially sound.
Kiwanuka said bankruptcy is a technical word, explaining that having no cash does not mean one is bankrupt, but could be having issues with cash flow.
Under the plan, all owners of motor vehicles, motorcycles and water vessels on all water bodies will be required to register them afresh and acquire new digital number plates and a special tracking device.
The Russian company will establish centres in different parts of the country, which will work with the Uganda People’s Defence Forces investment arm, the National Enterprise Corporation, to open up different branches.
In June 2018, following the murder of Arua Municipality Member of Parliament Ibrahim Abiriga, President Museveni, among other measures, directed that “electronically monitored devices be mounted on all cars, other automobiles and bodabodas, that are not removable from the platform that will help us to know where a particular vehicle was at a particular time. This will be done by vehicle owners at their own cost.”
Announcing the security masterplan to Parliament, Museveni said the move will augment other measures, such as installation of CCTV cameras and gun fingerprinting aimed at resolving the rampant murders, especially of prominent persons in the country’s urban centres.
Following the attack on Gen. Katumba Wamala, during which his daughter and driver were killed, Museveni, during his State of the Nation address on June 4, directed the State Minister for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi, to ensure that the project is hastened.
“Every vehicle and motorcycle must have a centralised digital monitor. If you try to remove it, we shall go for you. It will show us where you are at any one time. As soon as there is a crime, we go. I do not want any more time-wasting in investigations,” Museveni said.
During the address, Museveni blamed Katumba and former security minister Gen. Elly Tumwine for delaying the project of installation of digital monitors in every vehicle, motorcycle and boat.