By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: There is a bitter war worth over Shs26 billion which is raging on between officials of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and businessmen who own advertising agencies in Kampala.
Spy Uganda has learnt that this war has taken a legal course after the advertisers dragged KCCA to court, demanding that the Authority coughs over Shs26Billion, which is money KCCA has been levying on posters, banners, billboards and other outdoor advertising platforms in Kampala. So far six outdoor advertising firms have sued KCCA, seeking a refund of Shs26 billion they have been paying since 2009 in advertising rates and fees.
They include the National Outdoor Advertising Contractors Association Limited, Prime Media Network Limited, AD Concepts Limited, Level 5 Associates Limited, Capital Outdoor Advertising Company Limited and Adman Source and Contacts Limited.
The firms have filed an application against the Authority before the High Court Civil Division through their lawyers of M/S Alaka and Company Advocates. They want court to declare that the advertising rates and fees levied on them by KCCA basing on the Outdoor Advertising Policy of 2008 that was revised in 2018 are illegal and unlawful. According to the revised rates, the registration fee was hiked from Shs2 million to Shs5 million, the application fee was hiked from Shs10, 000 to 50,000, Bus Adverts from Shs1.5 million to Shs2.5 million, LCD/LED Boards from Shs1.3 Million to Shs5 million per sign and roundabout Shs10 million among others.
The companies also want court to declare that the Advertising rates published in the Uganda Gazette of January 11th, 2019 under the general notice number 38 of 2019 are illegal, excessive and unreasonable since the same is already charged under the Uganda National Roads Authority Regulations of 2016. In 2008, government instituted an Out Door Advertising Policy.
It included various advertising rates and fees to be paid by advertisement firms. As a result, the companies started paying the fees on an annual basis as earlier directed by the Works Ministry and Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA. In 2011 when KCCA was established, it worked closely with the advertisement firms to streamline outdoor advertisement, which was conceived as a partner in facilitating trade, commerce and generally as a channel of information to the general public.
The companies contend that this was so because some of their services on roads/ street and stage signage and other information sources were being done freely. They contend that ever since the increment of the advertisement rates in 2018, KCCA has been defacing and destroying their bill boards, signage and other Outdoor advertising tools in the event that payment is delayed.
Their lawyers allege that they have tried to engage KCCA in vain. The companies now accuse KCCA of creating serious business uncertainty yet they are also important sources of revenue in the country. “The Plaintiffs(Companies) have at all times survived on running contracts with their clients who are the real advertisers and their patience with the defendant is mainly hinged on fear to breach contracts with the advertisers”, reads the plaint in part.