Kenyan truck drivers, who have spent a month in a standoff with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) over a new tax policy on raw materials for animal and poultry feeds, have lauded Nation Media Group Uganda (NMG-U) for highlighting their plight.
While the traders say the items were exempted from VAT and import duty from 2018, URA says the privilege was being abused, and the Tax Act has since been amended.
According to Ms Josephine Nakimera, one of the clearing agents at Malaba border, URA was demanding for tax arrears amounting to Shs18b for the goods brought in during the exemption which she described as “outrageous” and “strange”.
But an October 10 letter from URA to KOUDIJS Uganda Ltd, an importer of the animal feed concentrates, seems to have solved the impasse.
NMG-U, which runs several media platforms, has been at the forefront of independently telling the traders’ story.
Mr Ahamed Garashi, a truck driver, yesterday said NMG-U outlets NTV and Daily Monitor had run the stories highlighting how they were stuck at the border and the suffering they endured for a month.
“NMG is very vibrant, it told our story and I feel some of them should have attracted attention from the key stakeholders, and that is why today (yesterday) we are being allowed to proceed to Kampala,” he said.
Mr Suleiman Siudu, another truck driver, said the story carried by NTV-U early this week should have done the magic for them, and “forced” the tax body to expedite the process of the provisional release.
“I was nearly giving up and offloading the container so that I drive back to Mombasa, but luckily, we have a provisional release order by URA and are heading to Kampala to deliver the cargo,” Mr Siudu said.
Mr Francis Wabuwa, another truck driver, thinks officials at Uganda’s tax body should change their method of work, saying such abruptness in policy implementation always badly affects them.
“As truck drivers, we have always been aware that the goods we were carrying are exempted from paying taxes, but when you reach the border and can’t proceed because of a new tax policy or until taxes are paid or a decision is made, I think that is bad,” Mr Wabuwa said.