How a sophisticated system for creating driving licenses can improve road safety
National Road Safety Action Plan aims to curtail road accidents in Uganda
How a sophisticated system for creating driving licenses can improve road safety Uganda’s digital system can issue a new driving license within an hour
Uganda is homing in on road safety as part of a plan to reduce road crash fatalities and injuries by 25% between 2022 and 2026. The Ministry of Works and Transport has introduced a National Road Safety Action Plan to implement actions to improve the safety of road transport systems in the country. By 2030, the plan aims to reduce 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries. One major aspect of improving road safety is ensuring that a driver is qualified and holds a valid driver’s license. Now, the Uganda Driver Licensing system (UDLS), the country’s new computerized system for issuing driving licenses, is helping the citizens of Uganda to quickly and conveniently obtain or renew a driving permit. This will help to reduce the number of unqualified drivers causing road traffic accidents.
UDLS is a project run by the Ministry of Works and Transport to license drivers and improve safety on the roads of the eastern African country. It produces and creates secure computerized driving licenses as part of the Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC), a joint venture between the state-owned Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) and Veridos.
Stress-free, fast issuing process
Citizens concerned about all the extra admin and hassle involved in obtaining a new license need not worry any further. They now need to just head to the UDLS office in Kampala, which offers a one-stop shop to issue the country’s new computerized driver’s licenses. In this citizen-centric hub, which places emphasis on providing a pleasant customer experience, people can quickly and conveniently acquire a new license, renew an old one, or extend the classes of their license.
Those who live outside of Kampala can visit one of seven regional UDLS offices instead. Data is collected locally, and then the new cards are sent out within 36 hours.
Plans are underway to introduce a mobile platform to reach customers in more remote areas. This will consist of minivans equipped with all the necessary data capture and communications equipment to enroll citizens and issue a new license.
The process runs so quickly and easily due to digitization. Everything is digitally orchestrated, from identity verification to payment and biometric data collection.
Performing authentication using biometrics and scanning of license numbers has radically reduced the waiting time for a new license. In fact, one of the key performance indicators is to issue the license within one hour from the moment a citizen enters the facility.
In fact, it can take even less time, says Dr. Aweke Lemma, Managing Director Veridos Uganda. “The reality for most citizens is that the whole document-checking, ID-capture, and new-license-issuance process has been reduced to around 30 minutes.”
Integrated, smooth digital process
As long as they provide the right documents, citizens only have to engage with one government department in order to apply, pay and receive their valid license. Access to integrated services, such as the National Identification & Registration Authority (NIRA) or the Uganda Revenue Authority payment system ensures that the overall process is effortless. Individuals have to provide an ID card, learner’s license, driving school completion certificate, and authorized acknowledgement of their driving competency. A five-year license costs 330,000 Ugandan shillings ($90).
The next step is to capture the individual’s biometric data, namely their photo, signature, and fingerprints. Cutting-edge Veridos equipment stores the data and engraves it on a new driver’s license card. After the card is checked for quality, it is then issued to its owner a short time later.
As the license is ISO-compliant, it gives Ugandan citizens the right to drive in other countries in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and East Africa.
Replaces old, laborious system
The smooth digital system replaces a laborious, time-consuming process, which was also vulnerable to fraud. Previously, renewal slips were glued inside a logbook, meaning that drivers with the same names could potentially swap slips. The old cards also weren’t aligned with ISO standards.
Beforehand, if you lost your driver’s license, you had to place an advert in newspapers, declaring that you had lost it. You then had to submit a copy of the advert, a police letter, a valid identification document, payment proof for the renewal and a filled-out application form to the Uganda Drivers Licensing System in order to receive a duplicate card.
Security first and foremost
Veridos’s involvement in the new digital process ensures that the issuance of the driver’s license card is utterly secure - from creating the card to capturing biometric data and finally the laser engraving of the citizen’s data on the card. The card boasts numerous security features, such as PKI crypto technology in a 2-D machine-readable barcode, which enables authorities, such as traffic police, to validate a license from the barcode using robust handheld devices.
The state-of-the-art security system takes advantage of a centralized database. This therefore eliminates any uncertainties about the originality and validity of the document and also whether the driver has any outstanding fines or endorsements.
Cards to be produced locally
The card is currently made out of durable polycarbonate, manufactured in Greece by Veridos. However, driving licenses will soon be produced within the country, according to an agreement reached in 2018 for Veridos and the UPPC to create a 41-billion-shilling facility for the creation of biometric ID documents in Entebbe, south of Kampala.
Once the Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC) factory is complete, all security documents will be produced locally. Winstone Katushabe, the commissioner for Transport Regulation and Safety in the Ministry of Works and Transport expects two production lines, one for security plastics like driving licenses, and another for paper with security codes to be completed in the first eight months.
As it becomes so much faster and more convenient to obtain a new driving license, the number of unqualified drivers on the roads in Uganda should fall, thereby boosting overall road safety in the years ahead.