The Government of Uganda has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Russian Company called MS Joint Stocks Global Systems Company, to import and install electronic vehicle tracking systems and electronic Number Plates in all vehicles and motorcycles with the stated purpose of fighting crime.
But the move has been criticized by some as an invasion of privacy, and yet an additional unnecessary financial burden on citizens already suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The newly appointed Minister of Security Jim Muhwezi said after signing the contract that the installation of a digital system that includes an election number plate will start soon.
“The public will be informed when each vehicle will be called to be re-registered to get new number plates. What is going to happen is that a vehicle will have a monitoring system within the vehicle, then there will be a digital system in the number plate. So there will be communication between the digital system and the number plate and the centre.”
0p0Minister Muhwezi said the move is aimed at monitoring where each vehicle is at any given time.
Some critics have criticised the move as unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy, while others have noted that the same system may be used to ease the work of criminals to track down their targets.
One Takala Martin responded to Muhwezi’s post saying that: “When CCTV cameras were being introduced, the regime said the same but now they are being used for tracking individuals being abducted, kidnaped etc So I know that these tracking devices are being introduced for tracking down people they are targeting not for security purposes.”
History suggests that with other aspects of the governance and security apparatus remaining weak, including poor pay for security officers, breakdown of the systems themselves, the success of such interventions is likely to face challenges.
For example, whereas the government spent billions of money to install CCTV cameras on the roads, the gadgets have been of limited value in solving high profile murders.