Is car tracking a priority for govt expenditure?

Thursday July 29 2021

Security minister Jim Muhwezi (right) exchanges contract documents with Mr Ivan Shkraban, the chief executive officer of Joint Stock Company Global Security, in Kampala on July 23. PHOTO/STEPHEN OTAGE

By Editor

There has been much talk recently following the unveiling by the minister of Security of a plan to insert track chips in all motor vehicles on Ugandan roads; a feat that would require re-registration of all vehicles for new licence plates. The security reasons given notwithstanding, this is an expensive venture, which will involve Ugandans footing their bills for registration.
It is being launched against the backdrop of other unfinished exercises such as the National Identity Card registration, which by May this year had only captured 25 million Ugandans, with only 15 million cards printed out of that number.
Not only is there a plan to phase out the current national identity cards and issue new ones by 2024, we are also phasing out old passports and now, are embarking on registering all motor vehicles.
This is not only a stretch on the country’s resources but at a time when the country is grappling with insufficient bed capacity for Covid-19 intensive care, inadequate oxygen supply, inadequate supply of vaccines and medical workers’ compensation among other things, why is it so urgent to register motor vehicles?
This only seems like a stretch on our already thin resource envelope and perhaps further demonstration of how security procurements are continuously prioritised over the health and welfare of Ugandans.
Besides, procurements like this one are at odds with our human security plan as drawn up in the National Development Plan, which urges investment in social infrastructure and food security as an avenue to cut back crime.
The seeming rush to seal the deal on the car tracking at a time of financial difficulty and when many vulnerable individuals and businesses could use government support to find their footing after the lockdown raises serious questions on the motivation and timing of these registration plans.
In addition to that, the plans raise issues of suspect procurement, all of which should be thoroughly investigated before the government is committed to another project doomed to failure.
Over and above the concerns of impropriety in the awarding of the contract are the concerns over citizens’ privacy, which could easily be violated by the parties collecting this data, and there are several who would have access.
There are simply too many reasons why moving forward with the car tracking at this time is not a prudent idea, not least of all that the country simply cannot afford another expensive project at this time, particularly one which raises more concerns than the benefits it promises.