26 April 2019

Uganda: MPs Okay Shs386b Loan for City Spy Cameras

Photo: Victor Garcia/Unsplash
(file photo).

Parliament — Parliament yesterday approved a government request to secure a loan of $104m (Shs386.6b) to procure 3,233 CCTV cameras to install in Kampala Metropolitan Area.

The area covers Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono districts.

The approval came after MPs debated a report by the Committee on National Economy presented by its chairperson, Ms Syda Bbumba (Nakaseke North, NRM), which scrutinised the request.

Ms Bbumba said the loan agreement had already been signed with Standard Chartered Bank, the key mobiliser of the required funds.

She said the loan will be paid over 12 years at an annual interest of 5 percent.

However, some MPs expressed mixed concerns over the project and government's continuous accumulation of loans.

Mr Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West, DP) said he was opposed to the loan because it is expensive.

"I am not in support of the approval of the loan because it is an expensive venture where we are going to spend $86m (Shs319.7b) on the project whereas the balance will be taken back in the loan terms," he said.

Mr Ssewanyana and other MPs questioned why government would buy more when 446 of the 1,300 cameras already installed in the first phase that was implemented last year are not working.

The legislators also tasked government to explain why the new cameras cannot be installed outside Kampala, especially on the highways to curb accidents.

Mr Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu South, DP) called for the evaluation of the performance of the already installed cameras around the city.

Mr Jackson Ssenyonga (Mukono South, NRM) said the Ministry of Internal Affairs should find a way of managing the maintenance of the cameras to avoid their misuse.

The MPs also made other demands, including government waiving taxes on importation of CCTV cameras for private users and ensure they linked to the security control centre to jointly curb crime.

"There is need for a reduction on the taxes on the importation of private cameras. What is happening now is that one must have a minimum of Shs10m to install camera. Government cameras will not be everywhere, so we need to work with the private people to fight crime," Mr Latif Ssebagala (Kawempe North, Independent) said.

Mr Obiga Kania, the State Minister for Internal Affairs, said government is planning to allow private cameras to be "voluntarily" connected to the national CCTV system for effective sharing of data.

"We are going to come up with a mechanism to ensure that the data compiled from private cameras is not misused," he said.

Government response

Mr Kania also clarified that the 446 cameras captured in the committee report as not working have only been installed but are being programmed, adding that they are "very good."

He also said under the sustainability component of the project, the next recruitment of police personnel will also cater for youth who have skills in ICT so that they are able to man the National CCTV Camera system for better results.

Mr David Bahati, the State Minister for Finance in charge of Planning, said government is putting efforts in domestic revenue mobilisation strategy to be able to finance the national budget by 80 per cent three years from now to reduce the increasing loans.

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