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Thursday,August 16,2018 09:26 AM

Why are we in the rush to lose sh185b?

By Admin

Added 17th May 2018 05:51 PM

Cities like London enforce congestion levies on any automobiles that drive into city areas that are clearly marked as congestion zones. I dare KCCA introduce congestion charges for any cars getting into the Kampala CBD, and let’s see if it won’t yield results.

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Cities like London enforce congestion levies on any automobiles that drive into city areas that are clearly marked as congestion zones. I dare KCCA introduce congestion charges for any cars getting into the Kampala CBD, and let’s see if it won’t yield results.

By Richard Juma

A number of explanations have been advanced in favour of the proposal: including environmental protection, congestion management and promotion of local motor vehicle assembly Industry.

First, if we really cared about the environment, then we would walk the talk with action against polythene bags, the destruction of wetlands and rapid forest destructions.

Secondly, if the issue was decongesting the city, then we should adopt what other cities have done around the world to counter the challenge.

Cities like London enforce congestion levies on any automobiles that drive into city areas that are clearly marked as congestion zones. I dare KCCA introduce congestion charges for any cars getting into the Kampala CBD, and let’s see if it won’t yield results. 

Thirdly, the development of a local motor vehicle Industry is a welcome idea, but other factors need to be put into consideration. The honest brutal fact is very few Ugandans can acquire brand new automobiles.

Most of the brand-new cars are bought by Government, Corporate companies and NGOs. So, the argument that restricting importation of used Vehicles will automatically translate into the development of the Local Automobiles industry is very unrealistic.

Actually, the Local assembly industries can a co-exist with the “used” automobiles sector. The Government, NGOs, Corporate companies and very rich shall buy the new cars, and the rest shall go for the used automobiles.

Many Ugandans are employed directly and indirectly by the old automobiles industry, and these certainly face a bleak future.

If we are all concerned about Uganda becoming a dumping ground for old automobiles, then incentives should be instituted to make new automobiles affordable. 

People would consider obtaining newer automobiles if they were reasonably taxed. Therefore, banning importation of the old automobiles without a viable option will not only hurt those employed by the sector, but also hurt the tax revenue for URA.

The question that remains is what will the Ugandans who can’t afford the new locally assembled automobiles do?  Well, the Government thinks, those Ugandans should import used cars (2012 models upwards), but how many can pay sh50m for a Vitz of 2012 model? It is very interesting that even with the facilitation from Government coffers, most of our MPs bought automobiles that exceed the 8-year limit.

It thus hypocritical that some of the MPs who bought the old cars (even after receipt of facilitation from Government coffers) are very vocal and in support of the proposed ban. Some have been on record making superficial claims of how Uganda has become a dumping ground for old vehicles.

One female minister arrogantly stated on TV that those who can’t afford new automobiles should use buses and bicycles! I found the phrase by the female minister very insensitive, but on second thought it made a lot of sense to me as the minister and her privileged colleagues shall be able to import the buses and make money from the Ugandans who will increasingly find it very expensive to own cars!

So, I guess it makes good business sense for the minister and her cronies. it was clear that as long as the Minister is “sorted”, she didn’t care what happens to the rest who are employed directly and indirectly by the used car automobiles sector.  

Our well-travelled policy makers clearly know that automobile ownership is not a luxury in most of the western cities they keep frequenting. Why make it so impossible for Ugandans to drive then?

In the era where ambulances are scarce, it could save a life if every household had means to transport a patient to hospital in the middle of the night, in a dignified manner and not a bicycle or bus like the Minister envisages.

Yes, Kenya and Rwanda have already implemented this policy, however, our resource baskets vis-à-vis demands are not at the same level. Our tax base is so narrow, no wonder we keep raising the taxes on the same items every year (e.g. Beer, Cement, Cigarettes, fuel).

 Well, it seems Kenya and Rwanda are not so constrained financially to the extent of considering a tax on Facebook, twitter!  How else can one explain Uganda’s proposal to raise taxes on Mobile money, and or even the backtracking on the commitment not to tax SACCOS?

So, if we are constrained financially, why are we in a rush to limit even the little we get from the old automobiles? Can’t the ban on the old cars wait till then Uganda can earn from the Oil Revenue?

Our well-travelled policy makers are aware that there are many old automobiles in the developed countries. The difference however is these countries enforce a rigorous automobiles inspection regime annually to mitigate on the adverse environmental emissions from the automobiles.  

 So the cliché of “environmental” concerns by some of our leaders is boring, and self-defeating.  I had the privilege of living in the UK for some time, and much as the famous Land-Rover and Jaguar brands are manufactured in UK, I knew people who preferred to import used automobiles from Japan because that is what they preferred and could afford!  

Similarly, I have seen so many old cars on the streets in European cities, and I have seen some in the Arab world, despite the famed Oil blessings. Who cursed us to think that its only old automobiles that pollute the environment, or to think that automobiles should only be a privilege meant for the very rich?

Sincerely, if we as a country are so broke, why are we even foregoing the 185 Billion from the used automobiles Industry.? Please, leave us with a choice to buy cars according to our financial abilities.

Secondly, let there be rigorous inspections by SGS to ensure automobiles are road worthy. If that is too much for you, then ensure reasonable taxation for the new automobiles. No one, will go for those junkies.
 

 

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