Parliament has banned the importation of vehicles whose date of manufacture spans more than 15 years as Uganda’s Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was passed with amendments at Third Reading on Wednesday (30 May 2018).
This is an additional seven years from government’s initial suggestion to ban vehicles with a lifespan of more than eight years as part of the changes in the Traffic and Road Safety Act.
Members of Parliament also passed a proposal that a person who imports a motor vehicle which is eight years old or more from the date of manufacture shall pay an environmental levy on that vehicle.
The bill stipulates that the ban on importation of vehicles will not apply to motor vehicles which are in transit before the commencement of this Act(01 July 2018) and which arrive in Uganda by 30th September 2018.
However, legislators opposed the move and advised that instead of banning supposedly old motor vehicles, the government should strengthen inspection to get rid of vehicles in Dangerous Mechanical Conditions.
Tororo North MP Annet Nyakecho said the government was likely to lose 182 billion Shillings in revenue annually if the ban was approved. Similarly, the leader of opposition in Parliament Winifred Kiiza said that although they were all concerned about the road carnage in the country, government approach was disastrous.
Kasese Municipality MP Robert Centenary said that the aspect of age was far-fetched citing a need to maintain people in employment.
“Even us MPs, very few of us can afford new cars, even myself, I just acquired a 2008 model recently. The moment we crowd out a certain category of people, it is being unfair to Ugandans,” Centenary said.
The statement evoked emotions when State Minister for Lands Persis Namuganza advised that those who cannot afford newer vehicles should not fail government policies.
A report tabled before parliament by Finance Committee chairperson Henry Musasizi had suggested that the ban is extended to 20 years. In line with the recommendation, Fort Portal Municipality MP Alex Ruhunda proposed that parliament allows importation of vehicles of not more than 25 years as a middle ground so that people are not pushed out of business.
But State Minister for Planning David Bahati pleaded with MPs to allow the ban to be set at least 15 years and above with a provision for a review after one year.
“The environment is very important. The 10th Parliament has been given opportunity to make a law that will save this but if you refuse, you will be judged so,” he said.
MPs also exempted environment levy on motor vehicles which are less than five years from the date of manufacture; excluding goods vehicles. But they imposed a 35 percent environment levy on motor vehicles which are nine years old but do not exceed 14 years from the date of manufacture while an environmental levy of 50 percent was imposed on vehicles which are 14 years old and above.
According to the Finance Committee, the used motor vehicle industry employs 11,139 people comprising car importers, clearing and forwarding agents, freight forwarders, car bond operators, brokers and dealers in spare parts. The sector is also interlinked to energy, insurance, banking and transport among others.