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March 14, 2024 by 

By Prof. Vincent Bagire


Just a short walk. At the entry into the Central business district of Kampala from my side of MUBS. The place is easy to connect to by road and rail. It is out of the known hassle of the city. It will not take us long before we are back. But we shall return with hands-full of lessons. And much more with unanswered questions. UDLS, is simply the Uganda Driver Licensing System. UDLS has a lot to showcase public service delivery in Uganda. That it is possible.  And the differences, the very wide gaps that we are all party to in other public offices could be no more, or at least less. Only if we all bought a leaf each from UDLS. 

At UDLS, this is not the case. The security at the gate is eager to receive you. And he or she will be glad to hear the service you have come for. Drivers permit renewal or new application, filling forms or picking the ready one.  They quickly get lightened to hear that you got a message prompt to pick your permit. They have the process at the finger tips and will guide you through what I called service cubicles, not posh offices. At UDLS technology integrates with humanity, with professionalism and religiosity.

I was there recently. It was under a very heavy morning down pour. Even when the guard at the nearby building was shouting at me that there was no parking where I had stopped, I jumped out of the car. Deep in mind I knew I would be back and drive away in a short while. To the contrary of that guard, the one at the UDLS entry apologized that rain had shocked the path. He requested that I step on a block he had placed there to enable us jump over the water. The next security personnel apologized that the chairs in the tent were all wet, and I could join the line while standing like many others had obliged. After a short while, he ushered me into the building. I was Ugandan in my mind. I asked if they had started service that early. We now seem to believe, out of anecdotal evidences, that when early morning rains pour in Uganda, offices open late.

I was wrong. Right from the first person to check my original document, through the system to the one who handed me the permit, there was no sign that it was heavily raining in Uganda outside this classic service agency. At the exit, the security regretted again the heavy flood water sweeping inside the waiting area. He guided me on the dry side and out, I went. Thank God the heavy rain had sent the rude guard off his work station, where I suspected to find him waiting to ask me, “now what”? I understand UDLS operations are under the Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC). The Board and Management of USPC should be applauded for this leadership. Academically, the Upper Echelons theory says that behavior of organizations is a reflection of their top managers. Board and Management at USPC might be icons to look up to by other leaders in government. There are certainly other Government Agencies doing quite well in service delivery. They are subject to benchmark to, but for UDLS, we just need to go there for a retreat.

While driving away, my mind went academic. A scholarly study of UDLS is needed, urgently. This will document empirical evidences of how they do it. They are a public evidence of efficiency. It is a configuration of technology, work culture, personality and professionalism.  Many public offices have instituted computerized systems. They have even far better work spaces. They have over average workforce. While I pondered over these, a Radio presenter on one FM station announced how that very hour, under a heavy down pour he had witnessed a rare and singular efficiency in Uganda, at UDLS! I parked and jotted down these lines and share them with you.  Let us all, from other public offices, “Go for a retreat at UDLS”.

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