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Uganda Unveils Intelligence Transport Monitoring System (ITMS) Despite Privacy Concerns

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The Ugandan government has inaugurated the Intelligence Transport Monitoring System (ITMS) project in response to apprehensions about privacy. This program aims to implement electronic number plates, referred to as digital number plates, on all vehicles nationwide.

At the project’s launch, vehicles from significant government bodies like the Office of the President, Uganda Police, and the Ministry of Works and Transport were equipped with the new electronic number plates, signifying the beginning of a countrywide deployment starting on February 1, 2024.

Under this initiative, new vehicle and motorcycle registrations will incur a fee of Shs 714,300, with replacement costs of Shs 150,000 for vehicles and Shs 50,000 for motorcycles.

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Officials state that the primary goal is to enhance national security, safety, and control over vehicle-related criminal activities. General Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works and Transport, who oversaw the launch, highlighted that the project’s initial start date was meant to be July 1, 2023. However, due to logistical challenges, the actual implementation began on November 1, 2023.

The digital plates are expected to positively impact national security, aiming to deter criminal activities associated with motor vehicles. The ITMS project intends to discourage reckless driving through constant monitoring using a network of CCTV cameras, enabling communication between the national command center and on-ground officers. The project also aims to create job opportunities through ongoing training initiatives.

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Minister General Jim Muhwezi of Security described the ITMS project as a “build and transfer” model, acknowledging Parliament’s role in scrutinizing and enhancing the project.

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While officials express optimism about the project’s impact on security and law enforcement, concerns persist among Ugandans regarding the government’s potential misuse of the data obtained from monitoring people’s movements.

Karim Kibuka, the principal vehicle inspector in the Works Ministry and a project team member, shared details about the new registration number plates. He explained that the plates will contain a security chip synchronized during registration with a device capable of indicating real-time vehicle locations. Tampering with the device is strictly prohibited, with strict penalties imposed for any violations.

Moreover, the ITMS project aims to streamline vehicle registration across government departments by assigning unique codes. Regulations have been adjusted to accommodate new specifications and nomenclature, allowing for a maximum combination of nine letters or alphabets.

The application process for new number plates will be conducted online, beginning in Kampala before extending to other regions.

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