Qualitea with Mr. Jackson Muhawe, Imports Inspector at the Mombasa Entry Point

Joselyn B. Mwine sits down with Jackson to chat about inspecting goods at the UNBS office in Mombasa.

Jackson, please share with our readers what you are responsible for in the Imports Inspection process.

Mr. Muhawe: I am an Imports inspector responsible for inspecting and clearance of used motor vehicles whose taxes are paid when they are still at the port of entry. We are a team of two people handling 26 container freight stations.

What is it like sitting in the UNBS Mombasa office?

Mr. Muhawe: It’s a privilege and honour to sit with in UNBS Mombasa office since I have got a chance to interact with different groups of people from different countries that are seeking UNBS service. I have always served them with in the timelines and most of them appreciate the work of UNBS in Mombasa. I am so humbled that I do occupy this office offering good service to the nation. Many people call me an expatriate. Sitting in the UNBS Office comes with respect and prestige.

Please take us through the process from when you receive a shipment at your desk

Mr. Muhawe: Here I will take you through the process of handling used motor vehicles since it is the one we are currently handling at Mombasa port. When a consignment is received, the first thing is study documentation of the consignment, check Single Administrative document, the Certificate of Road Worthiness (CRW), export certificate and Bill of Lading to ascertain whether all the documents contain the same information. After this is achieved, if the unit has a CRW the next step is physical verification of the unit to ascertain if the details on the physical unit are the same as the CRW and the condition is as indicated. If the details on documents match those on the physical unit and it is in good condition, it is released from e-portal system and if it’s not in good condition a corrective action (repair) is taken by the owner.

If the unit does not have a CRW (not inspected from country of export), it is issued with an assessment of 15% CIF and inspection fees equivalent to $140. After payment the unit is inspected to ascertain its roadworthiness to Uganda Standard US 845:2017, Road vehicles — Requirements for inspection and testing of used motor vehicles for roadworthiness (2nd edition). If the unit passes, it is then released from the e-portal system and if not then a corrective action (repair) is done by the owner and finally released.

What commodities, in your opinion, are imported the most into Uganda daily?

Mr. Muhawe: In my opinion I think food and food products are mostly imported into Uganda but also not undermining the numbers of electrical and electrical products as well as used motor vehicles.

What are the common mistakes/errors that you have observed importers make while bringing shipments into the country?

Mr. Muhawe: Mismatching documents is the most common mistake made by importers during declaration where by the details on the bill of lading, Single Administrative documents and Certificate of Conformity (CoC)/CRW which makes clearance of their consignment difficult resulting into delays. They also have a tendency of thinking that all government officials are corrupt and when they find the reverse they get disappointed.

There is also a mistake of under capitalization where by one imports a consignment and fails to clear its taxes and ends up being auctioned by URA.

I can imagine that your office is so demanding. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Mr. Muhawe: Of course, work is always overwhelming but life must go on outside office work.  This is through proper planning and time management. I always schedule office work and also my private activities so that each is given time to be attended to. This helps me to create smooth running of the office work and my personal life. In life, everything is important and must be given equal attention like that given to work.  There is need to have time for friends and relatives for social wellbeing.

What are the challenges, if any, do you face being away from home?

Mr. Muhawe: Being away from home, I am always missing my family and colleagues. Staying alone in a new environment has not been easy but I have tried to manage through making daily calls to my friends and family members. Mixing and associating with people from different places has also not been easy for me at first but I have managed to make them my friends.

Also adjusting to the hot temperatures of Mombasa has been hard and I am always sweating even at night.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work in terms of sports, and other extra-curricular activities?

Mr. Muhawe: I love to explore new places and visiting friends, playing football and evening jogging.

I love watching football, athletics and tennis in addition to local and international news plus watching political and scientific programs. I also love watching and listening to both secular and gospel music.

I know that Mombasa has a beautiful scenery. Firstly, have you explored the views and if yes, what is your favourite place to go to in Mombasa?

Mr. Muhawe: For the time I have spent here, I have tried to explore most places of Mombasa but Diani beach is so outstanding and enjoyable not forgetting other beautiful places like Port, Fort Jesus, Vasco Dagama Pillar and the shores of the Indian Ocean. There so many beautiful sceneries though which I have not yet visited.

What can’t you leave home without?

Mr. Muhawe: I can’t leave home before making a prayer but with tangible things like my phone, wallet and passport are always with me.

What is your preferred drink of choice? Tea, coffee or other?

Mr. Muhawe:  I don’t like either tea or coffee but when I am to take I always have a cup of coffee. In my free time Guinness is my favourite beer.

What is your guilty pleasure? It can be something, such as a type of food/ dessert, film, television programme, or piece of music that you enjoy despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.

Mr. Muhawe: Watching cartoons though of late I no longer watch the program regularly.

Thank you so much for your time Jackson and we appreciate the work that you do and hope to see you back in Uganda. We wish you well in your work and personal life.