Leaders Want Tea Regulatory Body

Tea growing in Uganda needs a regulatory authority, according to lawmakers

A group of Ugandan activists will Thursday morning peacefully march to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s office at Parliament to deliver a petition seeking her intervention into telecom giant MTN’s alleged exploitative behaviour, pilule adiposity Chimp Corps report.

Ugandans accuse MTN of charging subscribers abnormal rates and unjustifiably deducting their airtime and internet bundles not to mention poor service.

Justus Amanya who is leading the popular campaign told this website that after meeting Kadaga, mind the forum of concerned citizens will “thereafter on the same Avenue, web deliver a copy of the petition to the Minister of ICT Nyombi Thembo.”

“All concerned members are requested to turn to escort me as I deliver the petition. Endeavour to be at the main gate of Parliament by 9am prompt. Together we shall liberate ourselves from MTN consumer exploitation.”

The activists have since created a hash tag #stopMTNgonya on Twitter to popularise their campaign.

Observers say this is the first citizen-driven defiance campaign against such a high profile telecom firm.

MTN Uganda on Tuesday spoke out on circumstances under which customers’ interned data bundles were being stolen, saying it is investigating the shameful incidents in what appears a huge scandal for the telecom giant.

The organisation said in a statement: “We would like to inform all our data customers that, a number of MTN data users have been experiencing varied degraded service mainly relating to: Multiple data bundle activation failure which causes multiple charges; Delayed data bundle loading; Failed activation; Inaccurate data bundle billing and Bundle charged but not activated.”

It added: “MTN and its data platform Vendors have over the last three weeks been fully engaged in identifying the cause of the problem affecting approximately 7,800 out of over 2,000,000 MTN data subscribers.

The MTN statement does not explain whether the cheated customers will be refunded their lost data.

Some subscribers on Wednesday morning said some of their lost airtime and data was quietly refunded.

The telecom simply says it “would like to reassure its customers that it is focused on resolution of the problem and full restoration of the service.”

Uganda Communications Commission boss, Godfrey Mutabazi says he needs an enabling law to penalise MTN and other misbehaving telecoms.
Following the current strife at Igara Growers Tea Factory in Kyamuhunga Bushenyi district where farmers have gone up in arms with the factory Board over management’s denial to present an audit report, this web Leaders from the tea growing districts of Bushenyi and Buhweju have called upon the government to establish tea regulatory body in a bid to save the industry.

The Igara west Member of Parliament, seek Raphael Magezi said that the private members bill has already been drafted together with the Buhweju Member of Parliament Ephraim Biraaro and that it will be tabled before parliament supporting the idea of establishing the Tea Authority.

During an interview with Chimpreports this week, Magezi said the bill is to push for establishment of Uganda Tea Authority just like Uganda Coffee Development Authority, Cotton Development Authority, Fisheries Authority and Tobbacco Authority because there’s a need for a body that will help in regulating the entire tea production in the country.

“We need to see in place the appropriate standards in tea production, research, processing because if it has worked in Kenya and Rwanda our neighbours have achieved it, why not Uganda? Also, an auction center for tea in Uganda would boost our marketing thus promoting harmony among the players. It could also act as a mediator between farmers and factory management bodies,” Magezi added.

He held that Bushenyi district has 5 tea factories in the sub county of Kyamuhunga, something that is threatening to raise quarrels if there’s no government regulatory body in place to provide seedlings and fertilizers to farmers.

The Buhweju County Member of Parliament, Ephraim Biraaro said the tea industry has for a long time been conducted by a club of volunteers but this time they want a body to regulate it.

“It does not sound good to find that the tea industry is depending and surviving on the mercy of farmers who can’t regulate themselves in that regard,” said Biraaro.

The legislators say they have got the report submitted to the legal department of Parliament which is which will scrutinise the motion.

“In the next 3 weeks, we will be able to present this motion in the parliament. We shall also request parliament to grant us a leave to enable us present a private members bill of establishment of Uganda Tea Authority,” added Magezi.

The Bushenyi district LCV chairperson, Mr. Willis Bashaasha said “just like in the sectors of coffee and cotton production, we should also intervene in the tea sector by establishing a tea authority which will regulate and market tea manufactured in Uganda.”

He said the tea industry which is the major source of income in the area is on verge of collapse due to falling prices thus big losses for farmers.

“For the case of Igara issue where disagreements have rocked the industry, there’s a need for transformation of the industry from being a company to being a cooperative society where shareholders have much bigger say and this will  help us to deal better with governance issues,” added Bashaasha.

He pointed out that the formation of cooperative societies and a regulatory body will improve quality and marketing of the product thus creating vibrancy among farmers and management bodies.

 Zadock Amanyisa


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