In Summary
  • Taking steps to protect your car will give you a peace of mind while protecting your investment as well.

When Douglas Lakiamun Kodiok started his car one Saturday evening, he did not know he would be attacked by robbers but as he made his way to a friend’s home in Bunamwaya off the Kampala-Entebbe main road, three men emerged from a mini thicket and ordered him to switch off his car engine and immediately get out of the vehicle.
“I panicked but switched off the engine, took my hands off the steering wheel and stepped out of the car. In that moment, I started regretting why I had switched off my car tracker,” he recounts.
The thieves forced him out of the car and drove off.
He resigned to the possible reality that his car had been stolen and he would never recover it. However, he called the company where he had bought the tracker. “When he called us, the first thing we did was to re-activate his tracker remotely and started tracking his car. We realised it was somewhere in Kawempe so we rushed and reported the case to the police station there and officers immediately sprang into action,” Jackson Sserwanga, a technical manager with Porcupine Uganda, explains.
The car was later recovered in someone’s home where the thieves had removed its original number plates and replaced them with fake UN plates to ease taking it beyond the Ugandan border.

How the tracker works
Sserwanga adds that whereas they cannot guarantee a customer that the company will recover their cars once stolen, he implores them to install the tracker and keep it active at all times. The tracker uses GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) technology. Noah Nyabwana is an engineer with Blue Cube Limited and explains that they also provide car safety using trackers. Once installed, the car tracker devices will notify the vehicle owner whenever the car is started and also report its location, all on the smart mobile phone through which the gadget is configured.

How to apply for it
“This works for anyone from those who own a single car to those who own fleets or even company fleet managers. Acquisition is as easy. We will come to you and install a device in your car and then create an account to track your car through the track platform,” Nyabwana explains. Sserwanga says the full tracker kit costs Shs750,000. Blue Cube used a subscription based payment model, which is on a monthly and annual basis. The vehicles can be tracked through a web portal and an android-based app. However, an iPhone app is yet to be developed. Safety of cars is essential especially because of the ease with which car cutters can make keys that substitute original car keys. Local Council chairman for Kyengera’s Nabaziza zone, Amuuli Wagaba, was awed at how fast a key cutter could make a copy for his car.

When he agreed to a key cutter making a copy for his vehicle, the chairman hardly waited five minutes before the car key cutter handed him a key that perfectly ignited his vehicle.
“No one is safe. Can you believe that the car key cutter did not even have to look at my original car keys?” he wondered. According to Uganda Police, there was an increase in car thefts in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, with an estimation of 136 cars and motorcycles stolen in the last quarter of last year. Police noted that thieves have devised smart ways of opening people’s cars. This is in addition to attendants at washing bays who use the opportunity when car owners leave car keys behind, to make duplicates that they then use with thieves to steal the cars.

Know specific routes
With a car tracker, Sserwanga says the owner can demarcate routes for their car or fleet of vehicles and should a driver drive out of the cut-out routes, they will be penalised. “A car owner can also dictate a route to a point of notifying us that his car of fleet only plies either tarmac or murram roads so when the car or cars go off such grids then a notification is sent to the owner’s smart phone,” Sserwanga further explains.
Nyabwana and Sserwanga say they term this as geo fencing, and add that the track settings can also control the speed of a car. Some customers prefer to also monitor the fuel with a sensor, and part with Shs280,000 in order to track the fuel usage of their car or fleet.

For business people, Sserwanga says they also provide and can install cameras within their car or cars, and adds that those who operate business with perishables or goods that need capacity monitoring are keen on such.
“Tracking lets you curb bad habits by monitoring drivers’ speed, route inefficiencies and unauthorised trips among other things. This goes a long way to advise on the relationship between fuel consumption and distance travelled. Armed with this data on your sleeves, you are able to make more informed decisions such as optimisation of fuel and operating costs,” Nyabwana further explains. He says the hardware is very easy to install, is light and has no effect on your car systems.
The tracker is a smart way to keep track of your car and what goes on when you are seated in it or have entrusted someone else to drive or do business for you. There are other ways to ensure the safety, for example the alarm system that will alert you too, in case of interference with your car or fleet, and more methods to choose from.

Most targeted cars
Figures by the Interpol show that there was a rise in car theft cases in Uganda between 2015 and 2017. The police figures indicate vehicles stolen from Uganda and smuggled to neighbouring countries rose from 64 in 2015, to 516 in 2016 and swelled to 589 in 2017.
December last year registered the highest number of carjacks with 288 cars reported stolen. It was followed by October that recorded 93 cases, September 86 and 58 cases registered in March this year.
The five most stolen vehicles include Toyota Premio, Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Wish, Toyota Noah and Toyota Super Custom. People trafficking these cars include Ugandans, Congolese, Kenyans and South Sudanese.