The government is proposing to license online based public transport service providers in the Traffic and Road Safety Amendment Bill 2019.
If passed, the Ministry of Works and Transport will license online transport service providers such as Safe Boda, Taxify and Uber among others.
The move was revealed by Monica Azuba, the Minister of Works while tabling the Traffic and Road Safety Amendment Bill 2019 that is going to be scrutunised by the Physical Infrastructure Committee.
Azuba said that the current law was enacted in 1998 and the emerging changes in road transport regulations and road safety aren’t being addressed adequately leading to deficiencies in the current law.
According to the Minister, the current law falls short of defining careless or reckless and dangerous driving, so as to guide Police in its application.
In the proposed amendments, Government is seeking to introduce a new clause in section 70 to read; A person who wishes to provide an online digital platform for the provision of public service transport to passenger or goods shall apply to the competent authority for authorization to operate the online digital network in a manner prescribed by regulations.
The Amendment also stipulates; The competent authority may before granting a license to an applicant under section; carry out background checks on the applicant, require that the drivers to be hosted on the digital platform are accredited and issued badges, require the applicant to submit a tax clearance from the Uganda Revenue Authority.
The Authority may also; require the applicant to obtain the relevant insurance and require the applicant to submit periodic reports and information to the competent authority.
However, it isn’t only the Safe Boda operators that are going to be licensed but all providers of public transport including public omnibus operator’s, private omnibus operator’s, contract or temporary omnibus operators, good operator’s, country taxicab operator’s, rental vehicle operator’s, commercial motorcycle and tricycle and tourist vehicle.
For one to get license, Government will require the applicant to submit periodic reports and information to the competent authority.
However, the Bill is silent on what kind of information the Online Digital platforms will submit to Government.
A section of MPs we spoke to welcomed the development.
Kasese Municipality MP, Robert Centenary said licensing Safe Boda or Uber will give chance to Government to have these service providers in its systems.
“It not only generates income for Government but also ensures the safety of the passenger. The only unfortunate bit is that the cost is transferred to the user, otherwise, I think licensing is okay,” he said.
Bulamogi County lawmaker, Kenneth Lubogo said licensing digital transport companies is important for order and security reasons.
“… Specifically, licensing isn’t supposed to be a source of revenue, it is supposed to be looked at as a point of regulation,” Lubogo said.
He also said that stakeholders in the online digital transport shouldn’t look at the development as government seeking to tax their businesses.