By Molly Kyakuhaire
Car importers have petitioned parliament over the exorbitant car import inspection fees charged by Uganda National Bureae of Standards (UNBS).
In a petition presented to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, the importers under their umbrella body Associated Motor Dealers 2015, want parliament to declare the US$140 (about Shs520,000) that they pay unjustifiable.
The importers’ protest is premised on grounds that the inspection methods are too basic to warrant such a huge amount of money. It should be noted that UNBS has since temporarily taken over the inspection of imported used motor vehicles for conformity to road worthiness following the suspension of the three previous contractors for the pre-shipment inspection of motor vehicles.
Parliament recently suspended foreign companies contracted to inspect vehicles for conformity standards while still in countries of origin pending the ongoing investigations into their alleged irregularities.
UNBS had contracted 3 companies: Japan Vehicle Inspection Centre (JEVIC), Jabal Kilimanjaro Auto mechanic and East African Auto Mobile (EAA).
However, when their contracts expired in May, Parliament stopped the renewal and launched an investigation over allegations of abuse of office.
Last month, Dr. Ben Manyindo, the UNBS executive director, issued a notice saying all used vehicles that did not bear road worthiness stickers and certificates from any of the three former service providers must be inspected by UNBS before being registered by URA.
He also maintained the inspection fees of $140 formerly charged by the service providers.
However, the car importers say that while they do not oppose UNBS’ decision to inspect the cars, they believe the inspection fee of $140 is too exorbitant. The importers drew parliament to the attention of local vehicle inspectors SGS, who charge a mere US$30 (Shs100,000) yet they do high level inspection of motor vehicles.
Francis Kanakulya, the association’s spokesperson, said UNBS fees cannot be justified because unlike the previous inspectors, what they do is largely visual inspection. Kanakulya said importers find it unfair paying Shs520,000 for just visual inspection, even in the interim because it’s unethical and only increases the cost of used vehicles on the market.
However, UNBS boss Dr. Manyindo said that despite receiving the car dealers’ complaint against the inspection fees, they cannot be reduced until UNBS reviews Schedule 2 of the Import Inspection and Clearance Regulations 2018. This states that the destination inspection fee shall be the same amount as that levied on the unregistered commodities.
He explained that the road worthiness inspection done by UNBS is a temporary measure as they wait the conclusion of the parliamentary investigations.