Govt Justifies Cost of Digital Number Plates

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

The anticipated expenses associated with the forthcoming introduction of novel number plates later this year have been ascertained through the utilization of a financial framework, according to the Minister for Security, the Honourable Jim Muhwezi. This disclosure was made during an appearance before the Committee on Physical Infrastructure on Tuesday, 08 August 2023.

Muhwezi revealed that the Ministry of Finance played a role in the creation of the financial model that stipulated the pricing structure for the new digital number plates. He emphasized, “The government is not investing any funds into this project; rather, the investor is entirely financing it and is expected to recoup their investment.”

The disclosure was presented in the presence of Gen. Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works and Transport, during a session chaired by Honourable Dan Atwijukire.

The committee is currently deliberating on a petition submitted by the Representative of Tororo District, the Honourable Sarah Opendi, which addresses the perceived high cost of the new number plates.

As per the outlined charges, new owners of vehicles and motorcycles will be charged shs714,000 for the acquisition of digital number plates. Meanwhile, existing registered road users will be required to remit shs150,000 for vehicles and shs50,000 for motorcycles.

The Intelligent Transport Monitoring System (ITMS) is anticipated to be introduced in stages and administered by Joint Stock Company Global Security for a span of 10 years before being handed over to the government.

Muhwezi also unveiled that the project’s rollout is scheduled to commence on 31 October 2023. He detailed, “Initial implementation will take place in Kampala, which is home to a significant proportion of vehicles and is also a hub of criminal activities. Subsequently, the rollout will extend across the nation in a stepwise manner.”

Winston Katushabe, the Commissioner for Transport Regulation and Safety at the Ministry of Works and Transport, highlighted that the government will receive a share of the non-tax revenue generated over the course of a decade.

Katushabe clarified that the pricing for the new digital number plates was informed by a comprehensive financial model that encompassed the overall investment of the Intelligent Transport Monitoring System, encompassing the sale of number plates and traffic fines. “Even before security became a concern, the government had initiated discussions about replacing the existing number plates. This solution offers a holistic approach, incorporating security-enhancing tracking technology within the number plates,” Katushabe explained.

In response to the costs, the Honourable Sarah Opendi expressed concerns over the affordability of the new digital number plates for road users. “Why aren’t we engaging local Ugandan companies that already manufacture number plates? I understand these number plates will be imported, potentially contributing to their elevated cost,” Opendi voiced.

The Honourable Patrick Oshabe, representing Kassanda County North under the NUP, echoed the sentiment that the expense of the digital plates is exorbitant for the average Ugandan. “The government ought to consider the financial limitations of the population benefiting from this technology. If one already possesses a number plate, why impose a shs50,000 charge? Let Ugandans retain their plates and solely implement the replacements,” urged Oshabe.

In his engagement, Honourable Atwijukire challenged the ministers to furnish documentation outlining the process by which the charges for digital number plates were derived. He stated, “For instance, a motorcycle’s cost amounts to approximately shs5 million, and factoring in a three-year loan repayment period, the total accumulates to about shs8 million. The digital plate expense would then constitute a substantial 20 percent of this amount, which appears excessively steep.”

The concern was echoed by Honourable Nathan Byanyima, representing Bukanga North County under the NRM, who raised questions about the projected gains from the non-tax revenue anticipated from the project’s implementation.

Addressing communication strategies, Susan Kataike, the Head of Communications at the Ministry of Works and Transport, confirmed the deployment of an awareness campaign intended to inform stakeholders and the public about the forthcoming implementation of the Intelligent Transport Monitoring System and its associated implications.


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