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Pre-shipment inspection: Higher costs but better cars

By Patrick Kagenda

Used car prices in Uganda are set to go up following the introduction of the pre-shipment inspection of vehicles at the port of origin. Three companies, Jevic Japan, East Africa Automobiles and Jabal Kilimanjaro were recently contracted for the job by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS). The Independents Patrick Kagenda spoke to Gyavira Musoke, the head of imports at UNBS.

UNBS recently introduced pre inspection of used vehicles while at the port of origin. What was the motive and what is its implication on the final cost of the vehicle on the market?

The cost of pre inspection is part of the actual cost of the vehicle because it is paid in the country of origin. When you order for a vehicle, you will be given a profoma invoice indicating the costs that have been incurred in that country and part of that is the inspection fee. Many vehicle importers have been paying this fee in other forms.

For example if you want to know the cost of a vehicle, there is what they call appraisal and there is a fee that was being charged for appraisal which is checking the vehicle, certifying it and recommend a priceat which it should be bought. They have also been paying an inspection fee.

What is the cost of pre-inspection at the port of origin?

In Japan we are talking about $145, the United Kingdom its $160, Dubai is $125, South Africa $180. So it ranges between $125 at Dubai and $220 as maximum at Singapore and United Kingdom. We have recruited three firms to do the inspection in Japan, Dubai and the rest of the world. Whoever wants to export from those countries or import from Uganda has to contact those firms.

What is the baseline of the pre inspection?

The inspection is based on road worthiness. We are not looking at the vehicles beauty but the aspects of safety and the road. This includes things like the functioning of the headlamps, engine, axles, safety belts and tires. Under this pre-inspection, the Uganda Revenue Authority is also going to benefit because people have been tampering with the odometer, the model and all those things. The companies that we have contracted have got access to manufacturers and government authorities both in Japan and the rest of the world where they can get the actual and authentic model or year of manufacture of the vehicle and the actual mileage that the vehicle has moved. So if there has been any tampering with the vehicle, it will be detected and we will be informed. We at the UNBS and the URA will access that info on a special data base created for that purpose.

Will the pre-inspection money be deducted when I register my vehicle at URA?

The pre-inspection fee is part of the cost of the vehicle so it will not be deducted. In other words, it will make the cost of the vehicle go up but the advantage is that you will have a better vehicle which meets the required standards.

What is the credibility of the companies you have contracted to inspect the vehicles?

We have actually appraised these companies. We had to visit their facilities. These companies are carrying out inspection of vehicles all over East Africa. Kenya is already inspecting, so is Tanzania, Uganda is on board, Zambia is inspecting, and Rwanda is soon coming on. They are also carrying out inspection for other countries like Russia and New Zealand.

What are the environmental emission standards for Uganda?

The current standards are a maximum concentration of carbon monoxide 4.5 percent and concentration of hydrocarbons. A 4 cycle engine should not exceed 1200ppm, a 2 cycle engine 7800ppm, and special engine 3300ppm.

What is your ultimate goal?

We want to improve on the standard of vehicles coming into this country; secondly we want to improve on the environment as some vehicles come with high emissions; thirdly is the issue of people doing online purchases. On the online purchases a person orders a car that appears very beautiful but by the time it arrives here it is not what he had ordered. The fifth issue is preventing fraud within the system. Before a vehicle is inspected, there is going to be a documents check and in that document check, say if a vehicle has been stolen, it will not have the proper documents and if it does not have the proper documents, it will not be inspected.

With the pre inspection, processes are you looking at the age limit of the vehicle?

No we are not having an age limit. This has been an issue of discussion throughout the East African region. Kenya has an age limit of eight years but Uganda does not have one because you will find a vehicle which is a 2005 model that has been mishandled which puts it in a bad shape. We preferred to put the aspect of the road worthiness which will definitely work into the quality of the vehicle.


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