BY OUR SPECIAL WRITER
Exultation and tears of joy greeted Kayoola Diesel Coach ( KDC) -the latest product built and produced by Uganda’s Automotive Industry flagship -Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) when it made its maiden trip to West Nile, Northern, Karamoja and Eastern regions of Uganda .
Covering a distance of 1,833 kilometers-the high-end executive bus- was received by hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic Ugandans and their local leaders who celebrated yet another major milestone registered by Kiira Motors Corporation in the development of Uganda’s nascent automotive industry -that’s championing green mobility technologies in Africa .
The 47 -seat executive coach -the first of a kind in the East and Sub Saharan -Africa- was unveiled by the automotive industry leaders -Kiira Motors at UPDF’s Luwero Industries in Nakasongola last month . Kiira Motors is led by Prof Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa who is the Executive Chairman and Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi the company’s CEO.
Local leaders ,excited Ugandans speak out as Muni University students get inspired
In Aura, the local leaders led by the Resident City Commissioner , Mr. Martin Orochi received a team of KMC engineers and support staff led by Prof Tickodri and welcomed Uganda’s new innovation while applauding the team at KMC who built the bus thus proving to the rest of the world that Uganda was now ready to produce commercial vehicles locally.
Mr. Orochi said that Arua city had a ready market for Kiira Motors buses made in Uganda and urged the local bus companies like Gaga , California, Gateway to buy buses which are produced locally and promote government ‘s policy of Buy Uganda ,Build Uganda (BUBU ).
Flanked by the incoming MPs, John Lematia for Ayivu West and Jackson Atima for Central Division constituencies , Orochi said Arua was an investment hub and was ready to offer land to KMC to set up a car -showroom for vehicles made in Uganda.
MP elect Jackson Atima was elated to note that Kiira Motor’s home grown green mobility technologies have grown and matured from a two seater Electric vehicle EV to fully electric buses and now an executive coach which has been designed and built by Kiira Motors for long distances .
The MP for Arua Central Division Jackson Atima , pledged that while in the 11th parliament he will rally his colleagues to push for the growth of Uganda’s automotive Industry which will provide many economic opportunities to the largely unemployed youth .
Arua Mayor , Isa Katto called upon government to buy vehicles made by Kiira Motors and lead by example to save millions of dollars that the country loses in the importation of vehicles
At Muni University , Vice Chancellor , Ms. Christine Dranzoa told her students to get inspired by the KMC’s products and apply their knowledge to practical development work.
In Nebbi crowds of school going children and the locals while exercising social distancing measures due to Covid-19 pandemic- inspected the buses led by the RDC, Robert Abak and MP elect Gabriel Okumu . The leaders said that with the elections season behind us it was time for Ugandans to follow the KMC example and focus on development work to secure their future .
In Pacwach -the gateway to West Nile region , the LCV Chairman , Mr. Robert .S. Omito, CAO Ms. Stella Abyeto and local leaders who included Mr. M. Alenyo led the residents in a march around Pacwach town to celebrate advancements made in Uganda’s car industry . The leaders invited KMC to set up-shop at the 500 acres – Pacwach Science and Technology Industrial park as the company scales-up its mission vehicles made in Uganda.
Similar scenes of jubilating Ugandans were recorded in Gulu, Lira , Soroti and Karamoja regions as people lined the streets to cheer , take selfies and others stayed in long queues to inspect and have a feel of “our bus”. The Leadership of Lira led by RCC Lawrence Engole, City Executive Director Mr.David Kyasanku , Mayor Mike Ogwang boardes the bus and drove around the city to showcase innovations coming out of Uganda.
In Moroto DCAO Peter Gidongo and RDC Kiizi used the Kayoola Diesel Coach which is designed for tourism expeditions -to have a panoramic view of Karamoja’s beautiful mountainous scenery .
In Soroti ,Mbale and Tororo
The popular Mbale City Resident Commissioner ,Ms. Pamela Watuwa, told journalists during the drive that the building of the Kayoola Diesel Coach and fully electric buses in Uganda is an indicator that the country is geared towards securing the future of its citizens.
Anthony Mutenyo, the Chairperson of Mbale Trucks Association on Naboa Road, said it is good for the country to produce such “precious things.” He said the production of buses in the country will reduce on the cost of transport and congestion especially in cities / urban centers.
Ronald Owembale, a boda boda rider and his friends said that since the country has started manufacturing buses, they now await to hear that they are also producing aircrafts. He said the job done was commendable.
Ahamada Shaga, and Bashir Silikye all residents within the City expressed joy at seeing the Kayoola Coach They said the bus was awesome and so luxurious and hope that the growth of the local automotive industry twill benefit the youths especially those unemployed.
The Soroti City Resident Commissioner, Robert Adiama Ekaju said the Kayoola buses will save Uganda a lot of money that has been lost in purchasing buses from foreign countries. “We should make Ugandans know that we need to support these local products. We should support our own,” Adiama said.
Tororo Mayor Mr. John Opio, Deputy RDC Moroto,William Senoga, deputy RDC Tororo Yahaya Were and Iganga RDC Thomas Matende all saluted KMC staff for putting Uganda on the global map of car manufacturers .
The special features on the Kayoola Diesel Bus
Fitted with combustion diesel engine the Kayoola Diesel Coach – the newest item on the KMC product mix can cover a distance of 2200 kilometers with a 500 litre fuel tank locking in a fuel efficiency range of 22 litres per 100 kilometers .
“The bus is spacious with reclining 47 leather seats that have good leg room, foldable tables, cup holders and USB charging pots. The Comfort is at the heart of the design. It is a bus that meets the requirements of travelers upcountry, across the border and tourists. The configuration of the seats can be increased up to 60 depending on a client’s choice,” said Mr. Allan Muhumuza the Director Marketing and Sales at Kiira Motors. As facilities on the KDC is a toilet that can serve all its 47 passengers .
Is Kiira Motors assembling or Manufacturing buses
This has been a long on-going debate but it seems settled now . According to Musasizi, KMC designs and integrates all the systems on the vehicles it builds. The KMC’s vehicles’ components are contract manufactured until the domestic and regional automotive supply chain localization achieves the required technical capabilities/ capacity and economies of scale to justify domestication of those functions.
The Kayoola buses both the Diesel Caoch and the Fully Electric ones have been built locally at the UPDF Luwero Industries . The steel body-frame for the Kayoola EVS and some of the body panels for the Kayoola KDC have all been locally sourced including paint and other materials .
What next for Uganda and the Kiira Motors vehicles
Kiira Motors Corporation is now working with reputable strategic partners to produce at least 1,000 buses for Kampala and other cities in the East Africa region .
The company and its partners plan to produce and deploy 1,030 Buses by end of 2021, 50 of which will be electric. The initiative is aimed at modernizing public transport in the urban centers in Uganda and beyond, while building the indigenous motor vehicle industry through technology transfer and localization of auto parts manufacturing.
Kampala and other Cities in the region have for decades faced challenges of road and traffic congestion, pollution, unemployment and under employment resulting into low fuel economy, poor air quality, low labour productivity, and compromised road safety.
The venture to produce buses locally therefore, is projected to create over 30,000 jobs directly, 100,000 job indirectly, and catalyze investments by Micro Small and Medium Enterprise in the manufacture of motor vehicle parts. The strategic and long-term focus on electric buses for the cities further demonstrates Uganda’s commitment to enhance environmental stewardship.
Who was on board the Kayoola Diesel Coach on this maiden tour
Driven by Moses Wasswa Kalule assisted by Fred Kayemba who were part of the KMC team that built the Kayoola Diesel bus at the army base in Nakasongola, other team members on board included Engineers Allan Muhumuza who is the Director Marketing and Sales and was also the team leader , Richard Madanda , Director Product Development , Fred Matovu, Power Train and EE-Systems Manager, Senor Legal Officer, Counsel Elias Bwambale , Media Strategist Ms. Ruth Nasejje , support staff , Milly Nakabubi and Godfrey Ocan. They were joined by Ms. Rachel Landman ,Director at The Adventure a tourism company in Uganda.