Three foreign companies have been contracted to inspect vehicles destined for Uganda before shipment, starting this month. By hiring them, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards hopes to curb increasing volumes of substandard used cars in the market.

The agencies that won a five-company international competitive bidding process include the Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre, (which will inspect vehicles from Japan, United Kingdom, South Africa, Singapore and other countries, apart from the United Arab Emirates. The company has branches in these countries. Other agencies are: Jabal Kilimanjaro Auto Elect Mechanic and Paints Company, which will inspect all vehicles originating from the United Arab Emirates; and East Africa Auto-Mobile Services, which will also inspect vehicles coming from the United Arab Emirates.
The companies will charge varying inspection fees. For instance, vehicles from Japan, Singapore, UK, South Africa and Dubai will attract fees of $145, $180, 125 pounds, R160 and $125, respectively.

Any vehicle imported into Uganda without certification will be subjected to a penalty of 15 per cent of the cost insurance and freight (CIF) value and then sent for inspection. The Bureau of Standards said the companies have already apprised auction houses and relevant authorities in the export countries of the new procedures.
“Any vehicle being shipped from any part of the world must be inspected and a certificate of conformity issued. It does not matter whether the importer is an individual or a company,” said Patrick Sekitoleko, quality assurance manager of the standards bureau.

Most of the vehicles imported into Uganda are from the Middle East, Japan or Europe.

Unfortunately, some are in dangerous mechanical conditions and are imported without following proper procedures. The move is the first of the bureau’s new programme of pre-export verification of conformity (PVoC) to cover all imported goods. The PVoC will detail the condition, accessories, structural, functional and mechanical integrity of used vehicles destined to Uganda.

In Kenya, the age of the vehicle is the parameter used to control importation. Vehicles older than eight years are not allowed into the country. The inspecting companies will be based in the countries of origin.

They will inspect the vehicles and issue certificates of conformity to those that meet the standards.
There will also be an accompanying report attesting to the inspection. The Certificate of Conformity is a mandatory clearance document that all imported vehicles must have. The documents will be tamperproof. The bureau has been carrying out destination inspection where goods are inspected on arrival at the ports of entry. The inspection has been largely successful, despite implementation challenges like delayed clearance of imports at the ports of entry. Most products must be sampled and tested before they are released into the market. With the PVoC, delays at ports of entry are expected to reduce. The PVoC will benefit the importer, the country and the buyers.

For the first time, professional independent assessment of vehicles’ overall conditions prior to export will be done. The move will also curb importation of stolen vehicles into the country. The Bureau of Standards has been battling with importers of substandard products at the ports of entry.
Some importers, fearful of losing business, have resorted to of coercing, intimidating and enticing inspectors to clear their substandard goods.

Some simply abandon such goods at the ports and change their business names to avoid being blacklisted.