Car dealers Decry URA’s Blocking of Vehicle Entry, Cite foul Play

Kampala/Masaka | RedPepper Digital – Distressed Car dealers, under Masaka United Motor Dealers Association, have petitioned Uganda Revenue Authority for allegedly blocking entry of vehicles cleared by Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) agents.

In a media conference in Masaka City, the dealers claimed that more than 2,000 vehicles are currently stuck in Kenya and Tanzania, yet they were cleared by UNBS agents under the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity.

The vehicles, they claimed, have since been denied entry by the tax body because they exceeded the acceptable year of manufacture.

“We paid $140 inspection fees for each of the vehicles when they were still in Japan. If they had attained the condemned age UNBS should not have inspected them. We ask URA to clear our vehicles,” Mr Hamid Bukenya, the Masaka United Motor Dealers Association chairperson, said.

Under the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity programme, UNBS contracts agents in countries of imports origin to inspect goods that have a value of more than $2,000.

Importers are thereafter given a Certificate of Conformity, which literally means that such goods meet required standards to enter into Uganda.

However, there has been instances where goods that have already been inspected at the point of origin are denied entry or sized for non-conformity.

For instance, Scorpio Africa, an electronics company last month sued UNBS over failure to conduct its mandate, after goods that had been inspected by SGS – contracted by UNBS – were seized by URA due to non-conformity.

The seizure was followed by the prosecution in a case in which the Standards Utilities and Wildlife Court found that Scorpio and its Managing Director Daniel Zhou had been misled by UNBS’s agents to take possession of the unlawful goods.

Asked about the matter on Tuesday, Ms Sylvia Kirabo, the UNBS head of marketing and public relations, said they could not comment since some of the issues raised were already before court.

However, she noted, UNBS had is experiencing an increase in forgery of conformity certificates, some of which have been used by traders to drive certain claims.

Vehicles are among the products that are mandated to conduct conformity texts for roadworthiness.

In June 2018, government implemented a ban on the importation of vehicles older than 15 years.

However, government has since, under different considerations, allowed some importers to bring in their vehicles even after implementing the ban.

This had been done following an outcry from importers some of whom had indicated the law had come into force after the vehicles had been ordered.

Mr Ian Rumanyika, the URA acting assistant commissioner public and corporate affairs early this week, said there was no satisfactory excuse that importers would give, noting that the law is clear on importation of vehicles older than 15 years.

However, he said, URA would examine the matter since a number of importers had raised concern about goods that are inspected by UNBS agents but later seized for non-conformity.

“The people who are into the business of vehicles were told earlier that we don’t allow vehicles that were manufactured 15 years ago or earlier. However, we [shall look] into this issue because many people have complained,” Mr Rumanyika said.

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