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New body to improve garage standards

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Two weeks ago, garage owners from all across the country gathered in Kampala to launch the National Auto Garage Owners Association (Nagoa). The event took place at the Imperial Royale Hotel and was attended by garage owners from Gulu, Mbale, West Nile, Mbarara, Kampala, and other major cities. The purpose of the association is to streamline and improve the industry and mark a new chapter in their operations.

The Ministry of Works and Uganda Police (Traffic Police) recognised the association as the first of its kind in the history of the country. It was evident to all attendees that one of the main objectives of this association was to bring about positive change and alter the public’s negative perceptions of those involved in the auto garage industry.

Motor vehicle garages play a crucial role in supporting Uganda’s road transport, accounting for more than 90 percent of the country’s entire transport sector. However, this sector has always been informal and disorganised, with minimal regulation. As a result, unprofessionalism has become widespread, leading to a negative public perception.

Change perceptions

While speaking at the event, the senior commissioner of Police Lawrence Nuwamabiine highlighted the need for change in perception. He narrated an encounter where someone asked him where he was going, and upon learning that he was meeting garage owners, expressed surprise. This incident illustrated the low regard in which the public holds garage owners and workers.

Nuwamabiine emphasised that the public’s perception is often shaped by the assumption that garage owners and workers are unkempt individuals, accustomed to working in dirty conditions and using vulgar language. This negative stereotype has contributed to the tarnished image of the industry.


Paul Kaganzi, the association’s president, announced in his speech that part of what the association will do going forward is to streamline external relations, which as he explained, has to do with how the members present themselves. 

“Nagoa, who are we? We promote good work ethics and standards in auto garages. You know, one of the things we have been running away from for so many years is what the public thinks about us. Today, many garages are shunned by customers because they [the customers] are being treated badly. Someone takes their car for repair and the catalytic converter goes missing. Other property from the car has gone missing. We, as members of Nagoa, must run away from that past. And if you want to be our member, you must not think like that. You must behave professionally,” he says, adding that members who misbehave would be sanctioned. 

“If you do not behave yourself, we will throw you out of Nagoa. And very soon, I can tell you, this is going to happen,” Kaganzi said.

On the flip side, Kaganzi said the association would also work hard to protect garages from badly behaved customers, which will deter them from getting away with their vices. 

Customer duty

“We have customers who keep moving from one garage to another because they do not want to pay their bills. How can we protect ourselves from such customers? How can we manage them? Customers also need to be managed. If we are organised and principled, it is easy to have a database of customers, which we can share as an association. When a customer comes to a garage, one can quickly check the customer database on the computer. If the customer is a cheat, then you can avoid doing business with them. This will force them to behave themselves,” he announced.

The members were urged to self-regulate to ensure best practices, professionalism, ethical conduct, and fair trading. They were instructed to stop cheating their customers because the customer is the foundation of their business.

Other objectives include promoting better welfare among members, advocating for fair auto garage statutory policies, reducing environmental impact and conservation, and incorporating road safety into garage repair and maintenance work.

Job Niyonzima, the owner of Niyo’s Garage in Kasangati, Kampala says he is happy that customers will now benefit from an organised auto industry. 

“For a long time, we have had a very disjointed and quite amorphous auto industry. Now, everything will be organised with a body that oversees, evaluates, monitors, and supervises garages. Any customer that deals with Nagoa will never be fleeced again,” he adds.

Redress for customers

Customers now, more than ever, can appeal when they feel they have not been treated well or when the mechanics are unprofessional. The customer can appeal to Nagoa as long as they have been dealing with a Nagoa-registered garage. And you will know which garage you are dealing with because every garage registered by Nagoa will have signage at the entrance.

The customers will be registered, and their details will be entered into a database. Additionally, their website will have a garage locator feature. This will allow you to find the nearest Nagoa-registered garage no matter where you are stuck in Uganda.

The standardisation of prices will benefit the customers, as it will put an end to the unfair and unspecified pricing practices at garages. Customers will be able to know exactly how much they should pay for each service.


Brian Mungereza of Fix n Rev Garage in Bukoto Kampala, says Nagoa has already brought garage owners closer, making collaboration easier. 

“When I have a problem, I consult the wider group. We have a WhatsApp group of more than 300 garage owners. And we consult each other. We share ideas and tips and we have solved so many vehicle problems this way. We also share tools and services. When I have a service that you do not have, you come to me. For instance, I may have a spray booth that many do not have. Many have been coming to use my spray booth,” he adds. 

Regulate each other

Kaganzi says it is now possible to also regulate each other. 

“We will have a look at the standards in all garages under the association and will be able to advise colleagues on what they are not doing well. Things such as proper toilets, proper equipment, proper uniforms and sitting areas for customers, among others are important and must be fulfilled,” he says.

“The biggest problem we are trying to solve is to change people’s perception of garages. Right now, they look at garages as places where school dropouts end, a last resort for failures. They also see garages as places where they steal your spare parts. All that must change,” he adds.