The Ministry of Works had first awarded the contract to SGS but the process was halted following complaints from other bidding companies
Traffic Police chief AIGP Stephen Kasiima pointed out a contradiction in the law which gives the same mandate of vehicle inspection to both the Ministry of Works and Police. Photo by Tony Rujuta
Traffic Police bosses have opposed the decision by government to privatize the function of mandatory motor vehicle inspection.
The Ministry Of Works had given a contrary for mandatory motor vehicle inspection to Societe Generate de Surveillance (SGS) from Switzerland, which started work in December last year with its main inspection station at Kawanda.
The committee chairperson Eng. Lillian Nakate on Friday tasked the officers to explain the circumstances under which a function they are supposed to carry out as Traffic Police was forfeited to a foreign private firm.
Traffic Police boss Dr. Stephen Kasiima told legislators that the Ministry of Works and transport ignored their advice on contracting a private firm to manage the country's vehicle inspection.
Some of the recommendations they had given included ensuring that the firm has stations across the country especially in the regional big municipalities like Gulu, Mbarara, and Mbale.
Others included availing them with equipment for enforcement officers, training of the traffic officers, and sensitization of the public about the project.
"We told them to ensure all these things are done before implementation but they ignored us and started" Kasiima said.
Kasiima, who was flanked by the commissioner for inspection, Franklin Kugonza, stated that they could not enforce the inspection because their recommendations had been ignored by the Ministry.
He also pointed out a contradiction between the Police Act and the Traffic and Road Safety Act which give the same mandate of vehicle inspection to both the Ministry of Works and Police.
Asked by Erute MP Jonathan Odur whether he was satisfied that their mandate was given to a private firm, Kugonza said, "I wouldn't say I am okay because my mandate is being taken away. You cannot enforce if you cannot inspect. It is police that should be in charge of inspection."
In 2009, the Ministry had first awarded the contract to SGS but the process was halted following complaints from other bidding companies. The Ministry eventually sanctioned the firm last year to start work in disregard to the PPDA recommendations.
But while presenting a statement to Parliament on June 29, 2017, the Minister for Works Eng. Azuba Ntege said that the firm was procured through an international open bidding process which is provided for under the law.
"The method was open to both domestic and international firms competing in order to attract firms with the necessary experience and expertise," she said.
She explained that the inspection is meant to reduce accidents and it was an ongoing requirement for all vehicles.
Calling it outrageous and a project for enriching some individuals in government, the MPs said they would not tolerate the SGS firm which they accused of charging exorbitant fees and lacking capacity to do the work across the country.
Kapelebyong County MP Julius Ochen said, "We have a governance problem. State institutions are not working together. The initiators of privatizing a key police function to a private firm wanted to enrich themselves through the deal. Government should facilitate Traffic Police to do the work as many other countries are doing."
Budama North MP Richard Othieno Okoth faulted Kasiima and his team for not doing enough to stop the high rate of road accidents which continue to claim the lives of thousands of Ugandans.
Buikwe North MP Paul Musoke Ssebulime argued that giving the contract to a foreign firm is only useful to those who awarded it but cannot be practically implemented without having Traffic Police to take the lead.