URA to collect over 200 million from illegal vehicle cloners

Uganda Revenue Authority intercepted two Toyota Hiace cars popularly known as drones and six high-valued trucks with fake Chassis Numbers. Using credible intelligence, the tax body will collect UGX 203,913,344 in taxes and penalties derived from unearthing this sinister ploy of the tax evaders.

“The unscrupulous car dealers imported the trucks as motor vehicle spare parts and later assembled from Kampala to make a complete unit and illegally assign them number plates of a different vehicle,” noted Ibrahim Bbossa, URA’s spokesperson.

URA’s spokesperson also noted that the assemblers were shipping in these motor vehicles as units transiting to S. Sudan, where they acquire S. Sudanese number plates, come back to Uganda and illegally replace the S. Sudanese number plates with those of Uganda.

“These vehicles’ original chassis numbers are then altered to reflect that of the registered number plate given to them,” added Bbossa.

In a similar operation in the same week, the URA enforcement officers netted a Toyota Hiace registration number UAZ646D with a Chassis number KDH200-0044323 which belonged to another drone Reg number UBJ838F, a car that belongs to the fleet of Front Page Hotel, an establishment in Entebbe, Wakiso district. It was alleged that after the UAZ646D was involved in an accident, the owner went to Bwaise Accident Vehicles “Supermarket” and bought a used chassis!

However, intelligence gathering, collaborative reports, and surveillance footage from the Uganda Police Force showed that the Drone UBJ838F whose chassis was supposedly sold to UAZ646D was well in operation and plying the Entebbe road. It was further established that both drones have never been registered in Uganda apart from bearing number plates previously registered!

Whereas a taxpayer can legally alter already registered particulars of a Motor Vehicle, Trailer, and Engineering Plant, they are only allowed to change the color, seating capacity, engine, weight, and body description, among others, and all this is subject to inspection and payment of the fees attached.

A chassis number is a unique identification for a vehicle and no two vehicles have the same chassis number. Altering car chassis numbers is illegal and punishable by law because it equates to changing the car’s DNA and is deemed as vehicle fraud or theft, which leads to difficulties in tracking ownership and history.

According to Section 131C of the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 of Uganda, as amended, no one is allowed to modify the chassis of a motor vehicle, trailer or engineering plant without prior written permission of the manufacturer of the chassis of the vehicle.

Any attempt to alter, remove, or tamper with the vehicle chassis number is a criminal offense and offenders can face fines, imprisonment, or both, depending on the severity of the violation.

Bbossa advised buyers to always carry out background checks, inspect and ascertain the authenticity of the cars that they buy from some dealers. It is always important to ascertain the registration number, chassis and engine number, and initial owner registration details. This information can be sourced from URA’s Customs Department and the Ministry of Works and Transport registration and licensing department.

These details are also available in the car’s logbook, which a buyer must insist on seeing and verifying before they purchase a car from a bond or a car dealer.

The owners of the intercepted cars will be required to pay the taxes and penalties due. If they do not redeem their goods, the trucks will be sold off in a public auction.

By Annet Nantongo

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