The Government of Uganda has entered an agreement with Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC), which is part-owned by Veridos GmBH of Germany to takeover the job of producing National Driving Licences.
Although USPC is 51% owned by the government, Veridos GmBH a Germany company introduced in Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni’s brother in-law Hilmer Froelich, owns 49% in USPC. Froelich is the husband to President Museveni’s sister Dr. Violet Kajubiri, who is also a member of the Public Service Commission.
The Minister of Works and Transport Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala revealed that USPC will takeover the sensitive job of printing Driving Licences from Face Technologies of South Africa beginning March 1, 2021. This follows the expiry of Face Technologies’ contract last year.
Reports indicate that Dr. Kajubiri’s husband, Hilmer Froelich, brought Veridos GmBH to Uganda, and ever since, the company has been winning lucrative contracts including printing ballot papers, supply of biometric machines.
At one point, it was said that government considered awarding a contract to print Uganda Shilling Currency notes to the company, but this appears to have faced opposition and was withdrawn.
In a related development, Katumba announced a number of changes to the process and appearance of the driving permits that will be produced by the Uganda Security Printing Company.
She said, instead of issuing a Driving Permit, USPC will issue a Driving Licence which is made according to international standards, as opposed to the one that has been in use.
Nabakooba said the Driving License is more sophisticated and comes with more security features compared to the Driving Permit.
Although Face Technologies’ contract ended in May 2020, it was extended to February 2021 to give the incoming service provider (Uganda Security Printing Company) sufficient time to prepare for the takeover given the COVID19 challenges.
According to the contract between the Ministry of Works & Transport and USPC for the design, production and issuance of driving licences, the software including all its source code and licences are a property of the Government of Uganda.
Gen. Katumba Wamala said the new system/license complies with International Organisation of Standardization (ISO) and Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme (TITFP) requirements making it international.
“It is important to note that we are moving from current Uganda Computerized Driving System to the Uganda Driving Licenses System which is more sophisticated and allows for issuance for the new driving licenses that are more internationally recognized,” he said.
The Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme (TITFP) aims at having a harmonised card for the three regional blocks of East African Community (EAC), SADC and COMESA where Drivers with the new card will be able to drive through any of the member countries with fewer restrictions.
He said one of the major ISO requirements is an Issuers’ Identification Number (IIN) to identify the Issuing Authority of the document as Ministry of Works & Transport, Uganda for our case. In conjunction with UNBS, the Ministry applied for and was issued with an IIN (63893000) by the American Bankers’ Association in January 2021.
“It is worthy to note that Uganda is currently the only country complying with this requirement in the entire East and South African region,” he said.
The new license will have varying validity periods ranging from one year to three and five.
“In addition to the existing I-year and 3-year validity of the driving licence, the Ministry will be introducing a new 5-year validity regime for driving licences and this will be a big relief for the drivers to reduce on the frequent visits and expenditure in renewing the licences,” Katumba said.
He said the licenses have new security features which are very hard to forge: “The new driving licence card has also been designed with the best technology to include very sophisticated security features that are hard to forge (especially since the new production office is near Nasser Road which is known for forging documents in this country).
The system has also been tightly integrated with the Police systems for easy verification and issuance of express penalties by the traffic police gadgets at the various check points.”
He said in order to further enhance the security and international recognition of the new driver licence card, the new software will include the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)
which digitally signs the licences to prove the document source as well as the integrity of the materials used when verified anywhere in the world.
The Ministry will also be introducing the Professional Driving Permit (PrDP) for drivers of commercial vehicles who drive for a reward. These are drivers of passenger vehicles that carry more than 8 passengers and goods vehicles that carry more than 3,500Kg of cargo.
Katumba said the introduction of the PrDRP is aimed at professionalizing the driving industry to increase competitiveness of drivers on the international labour market.
He said the new system has been tightly integrated with the National Identification database (National ID).
Katumba adds that all applicants for driving permits will be requested to have national IDs or Passports for non-Ugandans. This will help the government to reduce data duplication and easy tracking of citizens through all government databases.
The payment for the driving licence fees will now be consolidated and payable at once straight to the URA bank account. Starting with March 1, (when the new system by USPC is implemented), there will be no cash payments acceptable at the facility as has been the case with the previous service provider. Rather, all fees will be payable to URA through the various methods that drivers have been using to pay the government fees on the previous system.
Winstone Katushabe the Chief Licensing Officer of Motor Vehicles, at the MOWT, said the permit fees have not changed, the company will charge UGX130,000, UGX210,000 and UGX310,000 for the one year, 3 years and 5 years respectively for renewal.
“Those applying for the first time will pay an addition of UGX20,000 for each of the different validity periods. The URA web portal will then only be configured to provide for the new consolidated fees to allow the applicants pay both Government NTR and production fees using one receipt starting Saturday February 27, 2021 when the system for Face Technologies is shut down for new applications,” Katushabe said.
Katumba says During the transition applicants who will have paid to the current provider and yet not concluded their transactions by the takeover date by the new service provider, all licenses processed by Face Technologies during the extension (December 1, 2020 to February28, 2021), are to be printed and collected by applicants up to June 30. This is to allow the public adequate time to pick their licenses.
He says those who are carrying the old permits are free to use them until they expire; Katumba explained that the two types of documents will work concurrently until those issued by Face Technologies expire.