Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration has so far issued 188,200 electronic passports.
The passports also referred to as e-passports are a change from the current machine-readable passports.
Brig. Johnson Namanya, the Commissioner for Citizenship and Passport Control on Tuesday gave an update on the implementation of the e-passport system while appearing before the Parliament’s Defence Committee.
Namanya and other officials were led by the Minister of State for Internal Affairs Obiga Kania and the Director Citizenship and Immigration Gen. Apollo Gowa Kasiita.
Namanya presented the committee with timelines since the joint venture agreement for the electronic passports was signed on 4th October 2018. He noted that the supply contract had been signed on 19th October 2018 while issuance of the new e-passports started on 7th December 2018.
He revealed said that 188,200 electronic passports have been issued so far as of Monday while issuance of the Service and Diplomatic versions of the electronic passport started on 9th May 2019.
Namanya told MPs that integration of the implementation process with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and the National Identity Registration Authority (NIRA) had been completed on 28th and 14th November respectively and that full automation of the passport service delivery to a one-stop passport centre is almost complete.
He says that roll out of issuance of the electronic passports at seven missions abroad will be by March 2020. The missions include that in London, Washington, Pretoria, Copenhagen, Ottawa, Abu-Dhabi and Beijing.
Namanya told the committee that effective January 7th 2021 only electronic passports will be valid for international travel completely phasing out the current machine-readable passports.
Ugandans with machine-readable passports and in need of the electronic passport even before their expiry will have to surrender the old one and pay 250,000 shillings for the ordinary passport, 400,000 shillings for the Official passport and 500,000 shillings for the Diplomatic passport.
The Minister of State for Internal Affairs Obiga Kania said that new e-passports have better security features since they are capable of storing holders’ data in a chip embedded within it.
However, MPs sitting on the Defence Committee appealed to the officials to review the deadline of phasing out the current passports saying that one year from now is so short for Ugandans to upgrade to the new electronic passports.
They also argue that the Directorate should put some consideration for people whose current passports expire beyond 2021 so that when upgrading, the new ones are issued to them at a subsidized rates.