Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | All passport-related services have beem suspended for two days starting Wednesday to allow for a systems upgrade, the Internal Affairs Ministry announced.
Johnson Namanya, the commissioner for Citizenship and Passport Control said that this is the first major system upgrade since the passport services went electronic more than three years ago. “This should not worry Ugandans, because all electronic systems including the cell phone require periodic system upgrades and this is what the passport system is to go through in the next two days,” Namanya told journalists at the government-owned Uganda Media Center.
The upgrade will affect all passport offices at the Ministry headquarters, the regional offices, and missions abroad. According to Namanya, the closure will also affect the already set appointments for interviews, and those of picking up finished passports and the online application will be down, and it is only emergencies that will be handled.
“The closure cuts across, all passport-related services, and those who had their appointments scheduled for 19th and 20th have been adjourned to 23rd and 24th January 2023 respectively,” he said. He explained that “for those who have passed through the process and are due to pick up, they should wait for an invitation message for pick up as it has always been. We don’t expect anyone at the pickup point unless they have received that message.”
Information from the Internal Affairs Ministry indicates the passport section handles about 3,000 cases every day from all offices. However, the ministry notes that passport applications have dropped from about 1,800 applications to 1,200 in the past months.
The ministry blamed the passport delays on relocation from the physical to the electronic application process, the huge number of applicants resulting from the COVID-19 lockdown as well as the due diligence to ensure correct issuance.
“About the delays, remember when we had just shifted from the physical process to electronic, there came a lock-down. This delayed a lot of things in the delivery of this service, especially under the new system, which we had just moved to, and yet after the lock-down, the applications were very many,” Namanya explained.
He added, “You know many people use the opportunity of the express passports to apply for passports. The wrong people can also use this chance, so we have to strictly verify every application. Efficiency, should not compromise strictness.”