Muhwezi and the russians

Parliament’s Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs has raised concern on the compulsory installation of electronic tracking devices on motorcycles and motor vehicles, known as the Intelligent Transport Monitoring System (ITMS).

According to committee chairperson, Hon Rosemary Nyakikongoro, citizens ought to comprehend the modus operandi of the contract between the Government and Russian firm, Joint Stock Company Global Security.

In a meeting on Tuesday, 22 February 2022, Nyakikongoro said the Minister for Works and Transport, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, wrote to the committee saying the contract was signed between the directors of the firm and the Ministry of Security.

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“But according to information we have, the two Permanent Secretaries for the ministries of Security and that of Works and Transport signed the contract. This means that the Ministry of Transport as an implementing agency was supposed to come here and respond to certain issues that the public is interested in,” said Nyakikongoro.

She cited among others, government owning the number plates where tracking chips will be placed and how privacy of individuals will be managed, as well as who will collect the revenue.

“The data collected on the individuals owning motorcycles and motor vehicles is a private matter. How do you hand over this data to a private company that will be managing all this?” she asked.

The committee chairperson also noted that MPs are interested in knowing whether the vehicle tracking system will strengthen the CCTV system that is managed by the Uganda Police Force, and where the central system to man the data will be established.

“And at the end of the day, if the company closes, who will manage the whole system? Are we looking at training people under the Ministry of Works or Internal Affairs or the Police? Will it be the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, the UPDF, internal security or external security agencies?” Nyakikongoro asked.

She also spotted concerns by Committee MPs on which Ministry or sector would handle the project after Joint Stock Company Global Security hands it over to government after the 10 years.

“We are interested in knowing that if the company will pay itself by collecting fees, what type of fees will these be? If they are traffic fees, are you changing the law? We need to know if they have put correct figures for how much a motorcycle will pay for the chip and how much a lorry or trailer or other vehicles will pay,” said the Nyakikongoro.

The query into the installation of the electronic tracking devices on motorcycles and vehicles was called for by Mukono North MP, Hon Abdallah Kiwanuka, who along with some Opposition MPs, termed the move as illegal.

Kiwanuka, presenting during a plenary session on 23 September 2021, criticised plans to have car owners pay for the arrangement saying it is unfair.

He cited concerns related to the nature of the contract between government and the Russian firm, an enabling legal framework, installation costs of the tracking devices, intrusion of privacy and data storage of collected information.

The Leader of the Opposition, Hon Mathias Mpuuga, during the same sitting, sought to move a motion without notice under the Rules of Procedure to require the security minister, Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi, to appear before Parliament to report on the extent to which the project has been implemented so far.

Speaker Jacob Oulanyah then guided that the minister should present a comprehensive statement on the matter.

On 29 September 2021, the minister presented a statement to the House saying the President on 18 November 2019, directed the Prime Minister to inter alia implement the ITMS as a classified procurement under the Security Ministry.

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