Concern is growing in government over the planned transfer of the computerised driving system.
The system, which is expected to be transferred to a partnership managed between by Uganda Printing Security Company and Veridos, a German security printing company, according to sources familiar with the matter, could delay at a time when Face Technologies’ contract extension has only months to expire.
The transfer was delayed in May after Covid-19 disrupted government operation, which forced through an extension of Face Technologies’ contract up to December 1.
However, sources in government that spoke to Daily Monitor on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak on the matter, said the impact of Covid-19 and closure of borders has made it difficult for the new entities to inspect and import equipment necessary for the execution of the project.
The computerised driving permit system has been operated by Face Technology - a South African company - since 2003.
However, the company’s contract ended in May 2020 but was extended for another six months because of the Covid-19-related lockdown.
The extension sought to allow a smooth transition to Uganda Printing Security Company and Veridos.
Daily Monitor understands, according to sources, that the two companies had planned to source some experts, personnel and equipment mainly from Europe but this has not been possible because of restricted movements across the globe.
However, asked about the challenges, Mr Waiswa Bageya, the Works permanent secretary, told Daily Monitor that as far as he was concerned the project remains on track.
“We are still on the understanding we had with them (Face Technologies) because of Covid-19, we gave them six months till December and that is the position that still stands as far as I am concern,” he said.
However, sources insist there is no visible readiness for the expected takeover of a project that is used by hundreds of Ugandans on a daily.
Gen Katumba Wamala, the Works minister, said Face Technologies was still handling the project, noting details about Uganda Printing Security Company’s readiness would be obtained from the Presidency minister.
However, efforts to get a comment from the Presidency Minister Esther Mbayo were futile by press time but Mr George Mugerwa, the Uganda Printing Security Company managing director, said that whereas Covid-19 had happened it did not affected their plans.
He noted that they were “aware of the timeline” and everything was moving according to plan and the takeover would be effected on December 1.
Sources have told Daily Monitor that a number of senior government officials are strongly opposed to any contract extension for Face Technologies.
In a letter awarding the six month extension, President Museveni had noted it was most unlikely that Face Technologies’ contract is extended further.
This underlines government’s interest in taking over the project as soon as time can allow.
The President on November 4, 2019 wrote to Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda directing that Uganda Security Printing Company takes over the work of printing computerised driving permits and all other security printing works from June 1, 2020.
Since then, the company has moved swiftly and set offices at Uganda Railways Corporation and according to sources, the company had expected to kick-start work in June, but the Covid-19 lockdown forced suspension of the project.