The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has stepped forward to strengthen courier services with the view of improving courier safety with effective regulation.
With the rise of e-commerce in the world, the market for parcel deliveries has become increasingly important not only in Uganda but also the East African region.
UCC on Monday met with representatives of bus companies at the regulator’s headquarters in Kampala where both parties brainstormed on strengthening safety of passengers and couriers.
Acting UCC Executive Director Fred Otunnu said “stakeholder engagement is a key regulatory function that we at the commission take seriously,” emphasizing, “if we do not engage with you how then will we be able to draw out frameworks?”
Otunnu said the engagement intends to ensure security, and quality of postal and passenger services.
Winston Katushabe, Commissioner Transport Regulation and Licensing at the Ministry of Works and Transport said as parcel deliveries “become common, the rise of failed deliveries has also increased.”
He said “bus courier operators should employ ICT solutions such as tracking systems to increase efficiency.”
Section 33 of the Act prohibits any person from conveying, delivering or distributing postal articles without a license issued under the Act.
‘Postal articles’ are defined to include any letter, postcard, newspaper, book, document, pamphlet pattern, sample packet, parcel package or other article tendered for dispatch or specified in the International Postal Union of the license of an operator.”
However, article 32 of the Act provides that a “person shall not require a licence to convey, deliver or distribute articles for delivery to another person or persons to whom they are directed, without hire, reward or other profit or advantage for receiving, carrying or delivering them.”
Officials said there is need to regulate the sector as this would allow operators “know the best practices, responsibilities and quality of services expected.”
UCC Senior Enforcement officer, Kenneth Seguya said the engagement would empower players in the sector to know “who is to be held liable in case of breach of the law, lost postal articles or those tampered with, and management of liability.”
The engagement held under the theme “Towards improved Courier delivery and safety of property in transit” drew participants from different travel companies like Baasa coaches, KK travellers, Gaaga coaches among others.
The meeting has also drawn participants from the Transport Licensing Board. (TLB)
Section 5(b) of the Uganda Communications Act mandates UCC to monitor, inspect, licence, supervise, control and regulate communications services in Uganda.
Similarly, the conveyance, delivery or distribution of postal articles without a license issued by UCC is prohibited.
The five courier and postal license categories are national postal operator, international license, regional license, domestic license and intercity license (suitable for bus operators).
Otunnu listed the benefits of obtaining postal licences which include promotion of fair competition among operators, potential of the postal service business to thrive beyond local boundaries through alliances and partnerships, promoting efficient, equitable and quality postal services, increased revenue and profitability from postal services that leverage the capacity on unused passenger space.
Other benefits are sharing of infrastructure to bring down costs of providing services, opportunity for last mile delivery in e-commerce transactions and coordination initiatives between the postal industry and the relevant national and international organisations in matters relating to postal.