Skip to main content

The Punda






The Punda
(Uganda)

First made-in-Uganda vehicle takes to the road

Martin Ssebuyira Kampala

After several false starts, the first “made in Uganda” vehicle dubbed Punda 1, made its maiden road test recently to the amazement and interestingly, amusement of onlookers. The rickety three-passenger vehicle with a carriage is the work of a resiliently patient lecturer, Eng. Samuel Semulimi, of Kampala Polytechnic Institute in Mengo who confesses holding a childhood dream of making a car.

Eng. Semulimi told Smart Money that the vehicle has been undergoing construction since 2006 with support from the government, Makerere University Faculty of Technology and the Private Sector Foundation Uganda.

After more than two years of workshop activity, Punda 1 that gets its name from the Swahili word for donkey, made an unlikely emergence for a three-hour road testing with Eng. Semulimi at the steering wheel driving from Victor Machinery Ltd in Katwe into the city center.

Eng. Semulimi said the vehicle has been made from locally sourced materials –making up 75 per cent - including scrap metals metals. “The cabin tray was made using mild steel plates, hollow section pipes while the chassis was made using tubular sections, h-angles, steel bushes, bolt and nuts, flat bars among others that can be got from steel manufacturing companies like roofings, steel rolling mills, Hardware World and others,” he said. He said the vehicle has reached a point where he wants other partners to help him develop it further for commercial production.

“The vehicle would be ready for commercial production when various stakeholders pattern with me to develop it [vehicle] further,” he said as he drove.

Eng. Semulimi’s vision is to make a vehicle cheap enough and useable by rural folks such as farmers. And to state that vision, he conveniently inscribed the words; “Rural Transport Vehicle” in place of the registration number.

As it journeyed through the city bystanders including traffic police marvelled and laughed, and occasionally joked about its viability and looks. Eng. Semulimi refused to be drawn into the roadside jokes.

“The vehicle is easy to sustain. It can easily be maintained by most Ugandans especially those in rural areas who want carrier cars because of its simple technology,” he said unwaveringly. He said after extensive research from 1998, he found out that most economical cars in Uganda use about one litre of fuel for every 10 to 12 kilometers.

The Punda 1, he claimed, would use about half that fuel for the same distance or better still achieve up to 25 kilometers per litre of fuel, compared to the 10 kilometres most saloon cars on Ugandan roads achieve on average. Eng. Semulimi who is the director of Victor Machinery Ltd said he employed just five semi-skilled artisans; crafts men, metal fitters and a welder to construct Punda 1.

Victor Machinery also makes other vehicles products and services like car batteries, agriculture machineries, metal fabrications and electrical installation among others. For now though, the vehicle is to undergo mechanical scrutiny by various standards departments and agencies.

First, is a requirement of a mechanical audit by the Ministry of Works and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards.

“Let him write a letter officially to enable us inspect the car and give him a mechanical audit,” an official at the Ministry of Works only identified as Omara told Smart Money.

UNBS publicist Moses Sebunya said they cannot certify such a product because they do not have any set of minimum standards for vehicles made in Uganda.

“We even don’t have machines to test the car quality, we cannot certify it,” Mr Sebunya said.

On a more positive side, the Principal industrial Officer at the Ministry of Trade and Tourism, Mr Joshua Mutambi said the ministry would be willing to support such an innovative Ugandan. He said the ministry has plans of constructing an industrial center in Luzira to bring under one roof such people and easily provide them with necessary machines to boost their innovations. “The place would help the engineers get machines they couldn’t access to improve their products,” he said. He said the government would sponsor Eng. Semulimi to display his vehicle in various exhibitions in various countries to get possible partners.

Late 2008 a new development team together with Eng. Semulimi have come together to see the project develop into a production ready vehicle, namely the Punda 2.

Popular posts from this blog

Tanzania Automotive technology center (TANZANIA)

Tanzania Automotive Technology Centre (TATC). Established with an idea of creating a Centre of excellence in Tanzania to advance technology innovations, with the ultimate aim of attaining self reliance in technology relevant to the economic and social well-being of our country.


TATC was established in 1985 by a presidential decree, as a Research and Development Government Institution under the Ministry of Defence and National Service. The Centre is wholly owned by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. Establishment Purpose To create a Centre of Excellence in Tanzania to advance technological innovations, with the ultimate aim of attaining self reliance in technology relevant to the economic and social well being of the country. Building of TATC TATC was built through heavy Government investment , leading to; • Technology acquisition through ‘technology transfer initiatives’ between Timoney Technology Ltd of the republic of Ireland and the Government of the United Republic o…

(Uganda) Kiira ev SMACK

Automotive manufacture is a serious goal heating up in the East Africa region.  Uganda comes in with an answer to Africa's private mobility needs after an earlier achievement of a full electric vehicle namely the Kiira EV prototype.  This time they created a proof of concept for a production vehicle with a Hybrid powertrain to match called the Kiira EV Smack. 
"East Africa’s first hybrid electronic car has gone on display in Kenya ahead of its production in 2018.
The Ugandan-made Kiira EV smack will be launched in Nairobi later on Friday as the manufacturers seek potential investors willing to fund their dream.
Kiira Motors Corporation, the manufacturer of the vehicle, is looking for $300 million to enable them begin production.
The hybrid electronic vehicle was conceptualised and made in Uganda, and now is seeking for potential investors across the East African region.
Chief Operations Officer of  Kiira motors, Albert Akovuku says: “The amount of investment that is required 350m…

LARAKI MOTORS Returns (MOROCCO/ AMERICAN RELAUNCH)

LARAKI MOTORS (MOROCCO/ AMERICAN RELAUNCH)






The Epitome is Laraki’s extreme, yet elegant interpretation of the mid front engine hypercar theme. Designed and built by Laraki Designs, in California, Epitome is aggressive, muscular and fearless, but still inviting. She is all about proportion, play of light, shapes and unusual surface treatment that finally work in harmony, to give her the unique character and stance she enjoys.
At a glance, one immediately knows the kind of performance Epitome is capable of. The hypercar uses carbon fiber and aluminum extensively, for their mechanical and light weight properties. The result is a 1400 Kg performer, powered by a 1100 hp quad turbo, 7 liter V8 engine. And there you have it, the universal formula for extraordinary cars. Light weight and high power. Nevertheless, the chassis and suspension are at the state of the art, to ensure unmatched performance.
More than a hypercar, the Laraki Epitome is a work of art, as it triggers one’s…