Pioneer buses back on road after URA clearance

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Pioneer buses moving out of their parking yard at Namboole after Uganda Revenue Authority cleared them to operate again.

Pioneer buses moving out of their parking yard at Namboole after Uganda Revenue Authority cleared them to operate again. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA. 


Posted  Saturday, December 21  2013 at  02:00


Uganda Revenue Authority has allowed Pioneer buses to resume operations for the first time in 10 months after reaching an agreement over tax arrears.

According to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) manager in charge of Debt Collection, Mr Abdul Salaam Waiswa, the management of Pioneer Buses company can return to the road the 100 buses which had been grounded over tax arrears of Shs8 billion. The bus company and URA agreed on a payment schedule spanning 24 months.

“They (Pioneer Buses) have agreed to pay between Shs270m and Shs300m monthly within 24 months — and that schedule in our view is enough to clear the outstanding tax arrears of Shs8 billion,” Mr Waiswa said. “If they default, we will have no option but to auction the buses. For the meantime, the buses are not supposed to be attached or sold without permission from URA,” he added.

It is, however, understood that the agreement between the two parties followed intervention by the Ministry of Transport and President Museveni to have URA relax its enforcement rules and allow Pioneer buses continue with the transport business. The buses had only worked for a couple of months before they were impounded by URA early this year.

The Pioneer buses legal officer, Ms Rebecca Athieno, said during the 10 months the buses had been grounded, the company had been losing about Shs40m daily, an amount that could have significantly reduced the tax arrears burden if they had been allowed to continue operations.

Pending issues
Although the bus company has been allowed to resume business immediately, Ms Athieno said they will hit the road early 2014 —probably in March. She said there are pending issues, including designated routes to be resolved with Kampala Capital City Authority which manages the capital.

If these issues are not resolved quickly, the bus company may fail to deliver on its payment schedule as agreed with URA.

The KCCA spokesperson, Mr Peter Kaujju, could not be reached for comment as he did not answer our repeated calls. However, KCCA, Wakiso and Mukono councils are unlikely to stand in the Pioneer Buses’ way as the major problem was more about the tax arrears to URA than administrative requirements.