In the last couple of months, the automotive trade industry has been grappling with the dicey Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) program, an initiative by the government under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives aimed at curbing the importation of automobiles that do not conform to standards spelled out in the country’s laws (read substandard cars). This is expected to go a long way in reversing the trend of Uganda being everyone’s ‘’dumping ground’’ for substandard goods.
When PVoC was re-commissioned at the beginning of June 2013, following its initial six months suspension, the traders and importers under their umbrella organisations led by Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) went on strike, citing high expenses of the entire program as well as few companies accredited for the exercise, causing delays. For instance, the government issued a 15% surcharge on CIF value for uninspected vehicles plus inspection fee of 140$ which traders say heighten the final consumer price.
Now wait a second!!!!! Doesn’t it seem obvious that the traders are missing a crucial point here??? One would think that safety and wellbeing of consumers would be priority of traders when conducting business; after all, there won’t be any consumers left if the current crop isn’t cared for. Obviously, the traders ‘raising dust’ raise suspicion on the quality of cars they are selling and are likely to be the dubious kind who put profit making above safety of consumers. It wasn’t so long ago in Uganda that the media was awash with unconfirmed reports of nuclear contaminated cars from Japan (Fukushima disaster 2011) making their way into the Ugandan market. It’s further alleged that most of such cars were in pristine condition and were sold off to unsuspecting Ugandans who were possibly too taken up in in the ‘hot deals’ to suspect any wrong.
Perhaps the other question to ask is why PVoC didn’t happen earlier!! Guess only government officials in the ministry can answer that; it is even likely that the damage could have already been done as there are so many substandard DMC vehicles on the roads. In worse case scenarios, some are nuclear contaminated!! No wonder Mulago hospital has been reporting a surge in the number of patients diagnosed with cancer every year for the past 5 years. Whereas this sounds far too speculative, it would be folly to totally write it off; besides, better being speculative and take necessary precaution than having to deal with a raging fire.
So, what next?
Now more than ever, it’s every consumer’s right and responsibility to demand PVoC documentation when purchasing any automobile from the various dealers. The government through the ministry should also streamline the process and work closely with traders to make the program efficient.