PARLIAMENT: State Minister for Planning David Bahati on Wednesday lashed out at Parliament for abdicating its duty to protect the environment by supporting government in banning importation of vehicles older than eight years since the date of manufacture.
The minister called on the MPs to come to a middle ground and at least have the years put at 15, but the calls fell on deaf ears.
“You have been given the opportunity to protect the environment, but you have chosen to defy it. 20 years is a long time. We want to have middle ground of 15years.” Bahati said.
Parliament yesterday evening backed the proposal by to amend the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in a move that will see a ban on the importation of old vehicles.
While both Government and Parliament agreed that the second hand vehicles had become a nuisance to Uganda’s environment, the two sides disagreed on the year of manufacture of the cars to be banned.
Government had proposed to allow into the country cars not older than eight years from the date of manufacture, but this was rejected by both the Finance Committee of Parliament as well as Legislators.
Henry Musasizi, the chairperson Finance Committee, while justifying the position taken by the Committee argued that the cost of disposing of junk cars has turned out to be a huge burden to the country, not forgetting the fact that the quality of cars had also been linked to the high incident of motor accidents in the country.
The Committee rejected the introduction of an environmental levy on old vehicles on grounds that these have been largely responsible for environmental pollution in Uganda, with MPs arguing that environmental pollution isn’t caused by only old vehicles.
Musasizi said: “However, environmental pollution is not only caused by emissions from cars. There are other factors like cutting trees, swamp reclamation, emissions from factories and industries.
These factors should be addressed alongside the ban on importation of used motor vehicles.”
The Committee also blamed the high numbers of purchase of old vehicles on the high tax regime imposed on new vehicles by Government where new vehicles pay import duty 25%, VAT 18% infrastructure levy 2% withholding tax 6% and registration fees.
The Bill stipulates that the ban on importation of vehicles will not apply to motor vehicles which are in transit before the commencement of this Act (01 July 2018) and which arrive in Uganda by 30th September 2018.
Denis Sabiiti, Rubanda West MP supported the ban on old vehicles noting that the policy would encourage the ownership of new vehicles adding that used vehicles are expensive to maintain in terms of new spares and repairs.
While Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye East) welcomed the idea of banning used cars, he asked government to extend the period to 30 years as opposed to 20 years that had been recommended by the Committee.