Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has ordered the fresh registration of Kenyan registered motorcycles operating in Busia District and other border districts to ensure tax compliance and fight crime.
Mr James Malinzi, the manager of URA in the eastern region, at the weekend said: “As a tax body, we have lost huge amounts of revenue because Ugandans at the border districts prefer buying motorcycles and maintaining foreign number plates.”
“We have had incidences where foreign registered motorcycles have been used to commit crime and tracing them has been hard,” he added.
Mr Malinzi added that the unregistered foreign motorcycles are operating illegally.
“We are giving them a grace period of three months to have the owners acquire Ugandan registration or else they will be impounded,” he said.
According to URA officials, the motorcycle owners are required to pay a negotiated fees ranging between $200 (Shs720,000) and $400 (Shs1.4m) depending on the state of the motorcycle.
In Busia, there is a total of 2,000 Kenyan registered motorcycles while the ones bearing Ugandan registration number plates are less than 300.
Mr Ednan Mugoya, one of the boda boda riders in Busia, said they prefer buying motorcycles from Kenya because they are cheap.
“A brand new motorcycle in neighbouring Kenya is sold at Shs3.2m while in Uganda, the same motorcycle goes for Shs4.5m. So we prefer the Kenyan market,” Mr Mugoya said.
Just like Mugoya, many border residents in Busia, Malaba, Namisindwa, Kapchorwa, and Moroto districts own and ride Kenyan registered motorcycles because they can get them at an affordable price.
Mr Hassan Nakiva, another boda boda rider, said URA decision is in bad faith.
“I think they went us to become unemployed because the owners, who are Kenyans, will not allow their motorbikes to be registered with Ugandan number plate,” he said.
However, Mr Joseph Ojambo, the Busia District boda boda chairperson, applauded URA, saying the registration will curb crime.
“Since last year, several Ugandans riding Kenyan registered motorcycles have been attacked and killed by suspected criminals and the motorcycles stolen without any trace,” he said.
He, however, asks URA to lower the registration fees to at least Shs300,000 so that it is affordable.