Kampala- Interpol has set more strict rules on the transfer and registration of motor vehicles with foreign licensed plates in Uganda to curb cross-border vehicle thefts.
Under the new system, the owner of a vehicle bearing a foreign licence plate number that is to be registered locally must obtain Interpol clearance from the country of origin to prove it is not stolen.
The director of Interpol, Mr Moses Balimwoyo, said they have started implementing the system and Uganda Revenue Authority is helping them to enforce it.
“To get a Ugandan number plate for a vehicle with a foreign licence plate number, you have to have an Interpol letter from the country the car originated from confirming that it wasn’t stolen. Border monitoring systems have been put in place and they have been integrated with Customs Office to ensure that the regulation is enforced,” Mr Balimwoyo said at Interpol headquarters in Kampala on Friday.
Last year, Uganda police handled 34 cases of stolen vehicles from different countries. Nine were from South Africa, four from UK, five from Kenya and the rest from Rwanda and DR Congo.
Criminals have been stealing luxury cars, especially in South Africa and UK and bringing them to Uganda with their foreign licence plates. Upon reaching Uganda, they alter the vehicle registration to get Ugandan licence plates before selling them to unsuspecting buyers.
This year alone, Interpol and URA have impounded more than a dozen vehicles bearing foreign and local number plates on suspicion that they were stolen from different countries.
Mr Balimwoyo said Interpol is concerned about the number of stolen vehicles ending up in Uganda.
Interpol has a database of vehicles stolen and any car found in any country is impounded and taken back to the country of origin.
Mr Balimwoyo urged Ugandans who want to buy such luxury vehicles to always contact the Interpol office at Kololo in Kampala to establish whether the cars are stolen or not.
He said South Sudan has issued stricter rules that vehicles with foreign number plates can’t be registered in Uganda.
“All motorists with vehicles with South Sudan licence plates and intend to transfer and register them in Uganda must do it at the border where the plates are plucked off before crossing into Uganda,” Mr Balimwoyo said.