Vehicle inspection contract for review after MPs question Swiss firm

SGS country director Christophe Dubois and other officials meeting the House committee on Physical Infrastructure. Photo by Beatrice Leni.

By Beatrice Leni

Members of Parliament on the Physical Infrastructure on Friday quizzed officials from international inspection company Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) over its contract with government.

SGS Switzerland, which provides inspection, verification and quality assurance, was contracted by government in March 2015 to conduct routine vehicle inspection of cars to check their road worthiness.

During the Friday meeting, the committee learnt that SGS SA in Switzerland bid for the contract to provide inspection services. However, the final contract was awarded to SGS Automotive Uganda Ltd, a decision the legislators questioned.

Richard Okoth-Othieno, West Budama North MP, sought clarity between SGS SA in Switzerland and SGS Automotive Uganda Ltd.

“During the bid submission, it was clear to SGS that a subsidiary company is different from the parent company. How come the subsidiary is conducting the exercise,” Othieno queried.

The committee chairperson, Lillian Nakate further observed that during signing of the contract, there was no indication that SGS SA in Switzerland would have its subsidiary coming in to undertake the actual works.

In response, the SGS Country Director, Christophe Dubois admitted that while SGS Automotive Uganda Ltd is the operating company for the motor vehicle inspection service, the parent company has other subsidiary companies doing different works.

Dubois cited SGS Uganda Ltd as another company which deals with other activities including Pre-Verification of Conformity to standards (PVoC) inspections and analysis of commodities.

“SGS Group has subsidiaries in a lot of countries dedicated to specific activities. In the case of SGS, it is the parent company that bid and presented all the documents. After evaluation and award of the tender, the agreement that was signed allowed us to form special purpose vehicles for the purpose of carrying out the works,” Dubois added.

Legislators, however, resolved to review the company’s contract to ascertain whether this flexibility was included in the terms of reference.

Also queried were the charges of inspection, which the MPs noted were not those initially provided for in the contract.

MPs Elijah Okupa (Kasilo) and Henry Kibalya asked Dubois to explain how the fees levied were raised from what was originally agreed.

They also wondered why small vehicles are charged more than the bigger vehicles.

In response, Dubois admitted that the fees were raised due to inflation, adding that the Ministry of Works did not object to the new fees.

Currently, SGS charges motor cycles paying Shs 54,752; Shs 110,000 for a car and dual purpose vehicles; Shs 122,012 for light omni buses; Shs 59,000 for medium omni buses; Shs 110,212 for light goods vehicles; Shs 147, 500 for medium goods vehicles; Shs 59,000 for heavy goods vehicles and Shs 19,706 for trailers.




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