Uganda’s automotive industry flagship- Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC)’s latest product -the Kayoola Diesel Bus also known as the “monster” has been welcomed by Ugandans who have asked government to buy buses made in Uganda to create jobs and boost the economy .

The 47 -seat executive  coach -the first of a kind in the East  and Sub Saharan -Africa- that was unveiled by the automotive industry leaders -Kiira Motors at  UPDF’s  Luwero Industries in Nakasongola last week , has just returned to Kampala from a 900 kilometers roadshow trip in western Uganda where it was showcased to excited Ugandans- who applauded the Ugandan engineers for proving to the world that the country can now produce commercial vehicles locally. Kiira Motors is led by Prof Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa who is the Executive Chairman and Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi the company’s CEO.

Fitted with  Cummins 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 .

Its journey to western Uganda

The Kayoola Diesel Coach made its two-day maiden round trip to western Uganda from Kamapla to Mityana,Mubende , Kyenjojo, Fort Portal-Kabarole, Kasese, Bushenyi , Mbarara and Masaka on its way back to the capital. Along the 870 kilometer route the Ugandan built bus was greeted by excited Ugandans many of whom expressed support for  Mission Vehicles Made  in Uganda .  On board were KMC engineers including the company’s Market Intelligence Analyst, Ms. Doreen Orishaba and Automotive Industry Advisor,  Mr Edward T. Hightower who is based in Michigan USA.

In the tourism city of Fort Portal , the Resident City  Commissioner, (RCC) Mr. Rodgers Mbabazi was joined by the   NRM Party Deputy Secretary General , Richard Todwong and the area MP Alex  Ruhunda to receive the bus . The leaders pledged their support for Kiira Motors to champion the growth of the local automotive industry .

In Kasese, the RCC  Lt. George Walusimbi called upon local transport companies to place orders with Kiira Motors to make their buses locally . “ Kiira has demonstrated that it has the capacity to produce world class vehicles- let the local transporters buy these buses which are cheaper and with readily available after sale services ,” Walusimbi said in an interview with the media in Kasese.

Lt. Col Fred Mwesigye , the Mbarara City RCC underscored the enormous opportunities that will be created by the  development of the  automotive industry . “ Let all Ugandans especially those in government support KMC and other vehicle producers to develop the car manufacturing industry .We have all the resources  and technical  capabilities to make this mission a resounding success ,” he said.

The  special features on the Kayoola Diesel Bus

KMC CEO ,Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi said that while designing and building this unique bus the company’s team of engineers ensured better aerodynamic performance , fuel efficiency and safety of passengers .

The bus is configured to a luxury interior featuring 47 reclining leather seats (43 Executive + 2VIP + 1Guide + 1 Driver), a lavatory (toilet), on board Wi-Fi, refrigerator and CCTV cameras. The bus conforms to EURO 111 emissions standards.

The Director Marketing and Sales , Mr. Allan Muhumuza said that  the coach has 24V Radio, CD/DVD/MP5/Amplifier, Two 19” LCD monitors, Interior Video Surveillance Cameras (Front and Rear Cameras) and Flexible microphone with AUX Output to the Speakers.

Mr. Richard Madanda the Director  Product Development at the company said that the bus has an automated suspension system which enables the bus to adjust to the required clearance levels to ensure balance and safety . It also has a specially designed survival space that ensures that the top of the bus does not collapse inside in case of an accident to protect passengers .

According Musasizi, although customers will have a choice between electric and diesel-powered versions of the KDC, this particular model is aimed at the tourism market where the buses will be used to reach remote locations that might not have charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

 The Assembly viz Manufacturing debate is settled  

A debate has been raging on whether Kiira Motors is building the  buses locally .  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 others say

Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof.  Barnabas Nawangwe  is one of the prominent Ugandans who have had a ride on the Kayoola Diseal Bus . He stated thus ; “It feels good to be aboard the ultra modern Kiira Kayoola Diesel bus, designed by Makerere University trained engineers and built in Uganda by Ugandan engineers with more than 50% indigenous parts. Finally we are on the move.”

While flagging off the  bus  from Nakasongola to Kampala , Maj Gen Sabiiti Muzeyi, the Luweero Industries General Manager who was flanked by  Brig. Gen  Octavius Butuuro the out-going GM,  appealed to Ugandans to support the state owned nascent car manufacturer in order to develop the country’s automotive industry.

“Ugandans need to support our own because when we produce and no one consumes the products, we put their work down. This bus is the best I have ever seen. It has the finest features, it consumes only 22 litres of diesel per 100 kilometers and I don’t know whether there’s any part of the country this coach doesn’t reach,” Gen Sabiiti stated .

“I’m going to discuss with government so that it procures from us. This will create internal capacity. By supporting our own we shall grow and be able to tap into the outside market.”

What’s   the way forward

 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 buses 50 of which will be electric , are part of  30,000 Buses  the company and its partners are set to produce  for the regional market, with 65% parts and components localized by 2030.

According to a statement issued  by the company ,Kiira Motors and the 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.


Writer is a media and communications consultant And Advocate of the High Court of Uganda

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