Traders will start authenticating their weighing equipment online as Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) tries to improve service delivery and increase government revenue.
“There is some cheating that has been going on in terms of how much government fees one pays. We have been doing it manually and someone can write 5,000 instead of 3,000. But now the amounts are already there. Once one brings a weighing scale, it will automatically generate the real amount,” Mr Ben Manyindo, executive director, UNBS, said.
The new innovation will apply to measuring equipment, fuel dispensers and trucks that transport water, milk and fuel. UNBS says it will create fair trade and that consumers should now be able to receive what they have paid for. For traders, clearance timelines will shrink.
“There is a module for the inspector, mechanics and traders. When you bring your weighing scale, they punch in your name and your equipment goes into the database. It will be easier to verify equipment and get a receipt automatically generated,” Mr Manyindo said.
He was speaking at the launch of the e-minzaani platform early this week in Kampala. The platform is also seen as an opportunity to reduce friction between UNBS and businesspeople given that its methods of enforcing measurement standards have for years left a lot to be desired, according to Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Ms Amelia Kyambadde.
“They come and confiscate,” Ms Kyambadde said, “When they are taken, they do not know where to trace them because there is no form of notification. You should be able to say I have taken your machine and find me at this place. When these machines go, do these people get them back? These poor people spend money on them, this is their capital.”
For now, the online system will operate alongside the manual processes until April 2020. Fortunately for the bureau, some businesspeople already like the new platform.
“We are in a digital world so we cannot lag behind. Customers will be informed when their equipment expires. When time reaches for any exercise, it will be very easy for UNBS and I as a mechanic to know that time is ripe for the equipment to be worked on,” Mr Gerald Mukasa, a mechanic at Associated Scale Service, said.
The platform dubbed E-minzaani will also help in easing payments for various clients at UNBS. Clients will also be able to manage their personal information and check service histories.