Sanitation operators petition Parliament over multiple fees

The Association of Uganda Emptiers Limited seeks consolidation of licences and removal of multiple charges to enhance sanitation services.

In a bid to address the challenges faced by private sanitation operators and improve waste management across the country, the association has presented a petition before the Parliament of Uganda.

Presented by Hon. Christine Kaaya, the Shadow Minister for Water and Environment and also District Woman Representative for Kiboga, the petitioners outlined the pressing issues affecting the sector and proposed key measures for reform.

The association, comprising 40 companies and over 480 individual members, specialises in faecal sludge collection, transportation, safe disposal, and management, as well as toilet construction and maintenance.

In their petition presented on Thursday, 06 July 2023 during plenary by Hon. Kaaya, the petitioners raised concerns regarding the operational obstacles hindering their ability to provide efficient sanitation services to the rapidly growing urban population.

Foremost among the challenges highlighted in the petition were the multiple charges imposed by different government agencies.

The operators state that they are burdened with paying various fees at each stage of their operations. These charges include disposal fees to the National Water and Sewerage Corporation, operational licence fees to the National Environment Management Authority, and environmental and sanitation service fees to the Kampala Capital City Authority.

Additionally, they are subject to trading licences and income tax levied on commercial goods vehicles.

"The levying of multiple charges by different agencies complicates reporting procedures for private companies engaged in faecal sludge handling and makes the cost of doing business exorbitant," Hon. Kaaya emphasised during her presentation before Parliament.

The petitioners also drew attention to the limited number of sewage treatment plants available for faecal sludge disposal. Currently, only two sewage treatment plants, managed by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation, are operational during working hours. This limitation significantly affects service delivery, given the volume of faecal sludge generated.

To address these pressing issues, the petitioners urged government to take decisive action.

The proposed measures included consolidating the licences and charges paid by private companies under a single agency, thus simplifying their operations.

Furthermore, they advocated for the removal of disposal fees imposed by sewage treatment plants, as these plants recycle faecal sludge into manure for sale.

In addition to these measures, the petitioners called for increased private sector involvement through Public-Private Partnerships to enhance the management of faecal sludge treatment plants, ultimately improving service delivery in the sector.

Lastly, they sought the elimination of taxes levied on faecal sludge and cesspool vehicles, as these vehicles play a vital role in facilitating the provision of clean and sustainable sanitation services.

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, who presided over the plenary, referred the matter to the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry for review and report back.