The President’s directive is in line with the government’s import-substitution drive, where the government seeks to locally produce goods that were originally imported yet they can be manufactured locally.

Tondeka welcomes presidential bus directive, appeals for gov't support

According to Tondeka Bus services CEO, the president directed Tondeka to import only the initial 980 buses and work out a mechanism to work with local manufacturers. (File photo)

The President’s directive is in line with the government’s import-substitution drive, where the government seeks to locally produce goods that were originally imported yet they can be manufactured locally.

KAMPALA – Tondeka Bus service, the proposed principal public transport operator for Kampala metropolitan area, has appealed to the government to commit to supporting and financing Uganda’s nascent bus manufacturing industry to enable it meet international standards.

The appeal was made by the company’s chief executive officer Dennis Kibukamusoke, following President ’s ban on the importation of buses into Uganda.

Speaking during the celebrations to mark Uganda’s 58 years of independence at State House Entebbe last Friday, Museveni said that Uganda, under Kiira Motors Corporation, has now developed capacity to assemble and manufacture vehicles locally.

Museveni said Kiira Motor should be given priority by the Government and citizens, who have, over time, imported vehicles, such as buses, among others.

“I have already written to the Government. I do not want to hear any more of imported buses. They will be bought from here. We also have the capacity to assemble our own. So, I do not want to also hear about importing assembled buses,” he said.

However, Kibukamusoke said that while Tondeka supports the presidential ban on importation of buses in Uganda, the government must be committed to support and finance the nascent manufacturing industry to be able to meet international standards.

“The Presidential directive is a welcome move and Tondeka was already considering working with local manufacturers in its second phase of implementation because the president had already directed Tondeka to import only the initial 980 buses and work out a mechanism to work with local manufacturers in the subsequent batches. As we know, the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area needs more than 3000 buses,” Kibukamusoke said.

Hope

While it was reported in various media that hopes for Tondeka to change the face of public transport in Uganda had faded after it failed to deliver at least 400 of the 980 by September as had been planned, Kibukamusoke said that they are in advanced stages to have the first batch shipped in.

“The outbreak of caused some delays, but the funding for the initial 980 buses had already been privately sourced without government liability,” he said, adding that the buses will be in Kampala within the first quarter of 2021.

He noted that manufacturers have already started on the manufacturing process of the units.

He added that the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor is already identified and plans are underway to commence construction of the six terminals in Gayaza, Mukono, Maya, Kakiri, Buyala, Matugga and Entebbe.

Trade deficit

The President’s directive is in line with the government’s import-substitution drive, where the government seeks to locally produce goods that were originally imported yet they can be manufactured locally, so as to narrow the country’s trade deficit.

Bank of Uganda statistics indicate that the country’s imports increased to $8.28b (sh30.4 trillion) in 2018/19 financial year compared to $3.96b (sh14.5 trillion) worth of exports.

This surged the country’s trade deficit from $3.3b (about sh12.1 trillion) in 2017/18 to $4.3b (sh15.8 trillion) in 2018/19.

According to Museveni, the Kiira Motors Corporation electronic car assembling plant would be completed in June next year.

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