Government has, in principle, agreed to grant Face Technologies Pty Ltd a transitional period to hand over the production of computerised driving permits to the Ministry of Works and Transport, but only to minimise disruptions.
The decision was reached on Tuesday in a meeting the Prime Minister, DR Ruhakana Rugunda, called following weeks of heated exchanges between the ministries of Works, which supported the transitional period, and Finance, which opposed it. This newspaper, exclusively reported about the meeting on Monday.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson, Mr Julius Mucunguzi, confirmed the meeting in a statement sent to Daily Monitor. “The meeting was attended by ministries of Works and Transport, Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Attorney General and Office of the President.
“A government team, chaired by the Ministry of Works was constituted to discuss with Face Technologies, the company that currently holds the contract to issue driving permits, on how to resolve all outstanding issues and report to the Dr Rugunda within two weeks.”
Sources, who attended the meeting said Dr Rugunda shared government’s wish to end the contract with the South African firm but also wants a smooth transition with minimum disruptions to motorists.
Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, who led the government legal team to the meeting, reportedly said the matters under consideration were not necessarily legal but managerial and up to the Works ministry.
The meeting resolved not to renew Face Technologies’ contract when it expires in May 2020 but agreed in principle to give the firm a transitional contract to manage the handover of equipment, data and software to the government to avoid a crisis, subject to discussions and agreement.
Face Technologies owns the software and intellectual property of the project, which government can buy.
The State Minister for Works, Gen Katumba Wamala, warned earlier this month that up to a million driving permits could be rendered unverifiable if the contract ended suddenly.
Gen Wamala confirmed attending the meeting but declined to give details without the permission of the Premier.
The meeting reportedly declined to discuss the reported interest by Veridos, which has a joint venture with the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation, in taking over the contract.
Negotiation. The committee is expected to negotiate the cost of the software and intellectual property and the length of the transition period.
It is also expected to explore alternatives, including having the ICT Ministry developing a separate software solution for the Works ministry.
Works Ministry officials, however, said they need time to recruit and train a new team of workers to take over and manage the system once it reverts to government.
They also said a grace period is needed to integrate other systems currently run by the ministry, including the motor vehicle database, express traffic penalty scheme and on-going registration and regulation of the motor taxi industry.