Russian firm to make vehicle trackers in Uganda
The Russian firm contracted to install tracking devices in motor vehicles and motorcycles will manufacture the devices within Uganda.
This was disclosed by Noah Baalessanvu, an official who was part of the team that conducted the due diligence in Russia before Uganda entered into an agreement with the Russian firm, Joint Stock Company Global Security.
In July last year, the Government signed a 10-year contract with the firm to provide digital vehicle trackers for motor vehicles and motorcycles in a bid to curb insecurity.
The proposal was first introduced by President Museveni in his 10 point security measure in the wake of gun violence in the country that saw several Ugandans killed in 2018. Some of the people that lost their lives included former Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga in 2018 and Police spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi.
The other security measures included the installation of cameras, capturing palm prints and DNA prints, and banning hoodies among others.
Now as two Ministers of Security and Works interfaced with the Parliament Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs on Wednesday, 09 March 2022, members were told that although the services will be provided by a Russian company, all the devices will be made in the country.
This followed concerns from the petitioner, Hon. Sarah Opendi, the Tororo District Woman MP said that there was no due diligence done before the services of the Russian company were procured.
Additionally, Bukanga North County MP, Hon Nathan Byanyima said that previously, Uganda has procured junk items, and this time there was a need to do a thorough job in ascertaining the capacity of the company.
“What did we get, fake. In this particular case, Gen Muhwezi was not a minister and it was another minister. My humble request is to carry out due diligence, not to let us down. This country has suffered; everything we try to do in this country turns out sour,” he said.
Opendi also demanded a due diligence report from the committee and questioned the issue of direct procurement without competitiveness.
“You could pick two or three companies and make comparisons but you picked only one. You didn’t indicate to us whether this company had ever done similar work elsewhere,” Opendi said.
The Minister for Security, Gen Jim Muhwezi told the committee that every process followed was technical and effectively done.
Noah Baalessanvu who traveled to Russia to ascertain the credibility of the company told the committee that they did due diligence by visiting the company, talking to clients in countries who had procured services from the Russian firm, and establishing that the company was competent.
“To the satisfaction of the team that went there, the company had demonstrated that they had both the technological capacity and the manufacturing capacity to undertake this project,” he said.
During the meeting, the government tabled the agreement between the Russian company and Uganda, company profile, articles and memoranda of association of the company, and registration certificate of the company in Uganda.
However, Gen. Katumba Wamala asked the MPs not to duplicate or share copies of the documents saying as the Government of Uganda, they signed a non-disclosure agreement.
“I am sure that there is a non-disclosure provision within the agreement; so the documents which are being submitted, I hope that they do not go on WhatsApp, because that will be a breach of the agreement on non-disclosure,” Gen Katumba Wamala said.
Hon. Jonathan Odur, the MP Erute South MP said that the committee should continue probing and make a decision if what was tabled amounts to a classified document.
The Chairperson of the committee, Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro said that she will use her discretion as the chair to have a meeting to go through the agreements.
Meanwhile, several MPs raised concerns about the failure to follow the procurement processes, issues to do with privacy and who should incur the costs of installing the trackers.
Whereas Minister Jim Muhwezi insisted that Ugandans should pay for the service as they have already been paying for number plates, insurance and import taxes on vehicles, Opendi said that this should be incurred by the government which is in charge of the security of the country.
“The bottom line is that our people are already meeting thee cost centres before a vehicle gets on the road. The new registration will be a total solution providing for enhanced security features as well as tamper-proof properties which are lacking in the current number plates,” Muhwezi said.
Lwemiyaga County MP, Hon. Theodore Ssekikubo said that Government should not use the proposal to torment the Opposition and monitor politicians.
“Police has been abusing people’s phones without following the due process. Won’t you use these devices to resolve political disagreements and persecutions?” Sssekikubo questioned.
Gen. Katumba Wamala allayed Ssekikubo’s fears by stating that the trackers will operate like the cameras only being activated for criminal related challenges with privacy respected.
Ruhinda South MP, HON. Dononzio Kahonda appealed to Government to incur the cost of installing the trackers in existing vehicles and let only the new vehicle owners incur costs.
The Chief Licensing Officer of Motor vehicles at the Ministry of Works, Winstone Katushabe said that there will be a transitional process between the current number plates and the digital ones and the prices will be considered.