Uganda: Government Gives Face Technologies Six-Month Permit Contract

The Ministry of Works and Transport has extended the timeframe within which Face Technologies had been scheduled to handover the printing of driving permits.

The company had been expected to handover permits-related operations to government at least by May 31 when its contract had been scheduled to expire.

However, in an interview on Wednesday, the Works Ministry Permanent Secretary Waiswa Bageya, told Daily Monitor Face Technologies will have continue beyond the May 31 deadline to facilitate a smooth handover.

"To avoid having a vacuum [of issuing permits] plus the effects of Covid-19 that have affected USPC [Uganda Security Printing Corporation], we will not be ready to take over," he said, noting the extension will mutually benefit Face Technologies and government to organise better.

USPC, which will take over from Face Technologies, is expected to work in partnership with Veridos, a Germany company that produces integrated identity solutions.

About a week ago, Face Technologies, had written to the Ministry of Works seeking to resume operations after government had partially lifted the lockdown.

However, Mr Bageya told Daily Monitor government is expected to give feedback on the matter before end of today, noting the resumption will be guided by a set Standard Operating Procedures that emphasize safety of employees and the general public.

In March, Mr Bageya had said government had put everything in order to takeover permits printing by May 31.

However, on Wednesday he said: "We want it (take over) to be seamless with no disruption of service by putting everything in place to ensure that there is no breakdown."

Government, working together with USPC and Veridos, Mr Bageya said, they had determined the design and material for the new driving permits, noting they had also decided to maintain staff currently working at Face Technologies.

Government has already acquired new premises near Uganda Railways Corporation in which the permits will be printed.

Mr Bageya also said they were seeking to buy some software from Face Technologies and other necessary software.

Background

Last year in October, government, agreed to grant Face Technologies a transitional period within which it had to handover production of computerised driving permits to the Ministry of Works and Transport.

The decision was reached at a meeting that had been chaired by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, following weeks of exchanges between ministries of Works, which supported the transitional period, and Finance, which opposed it, details of which this newspaper, reported.

Dr Rugunda had shared government's wish to end the contract with the South African company but also wanted a smooth transition with minimum disruptions.

The then Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, who had led the government legal team, reportedly said the matters under consideration were not necessarily legal but managerial and up to the Works ministry.

The meeting resolved not to renew Face Technologies' contract but agreed to give the firm a transitional contract to manage the handover of equipment, data and software to the government.

Face Technologies owns the software and intellectual property of the project, which government can buy.

However, it was not immediately clear how much government will spend on acquiring the software and intellectual property of the project.

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