Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has given the Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo up to Tuesday next week to address the House on the process of issuance of the new e-passports.
“This is a matter that touches the rights and freedom of movement of the people of Uganda, and therefore the Internal Affairs Minister should come and update us on this matter,” Kadaga said.
The Speaker added that the issue was discussed in December 2018 and the Minister was tasked to liaise with the Attorney General and provide clarity on issues of sovereignty, nature of the National Identity Card and the process of changing passports.
The directive followed a concern by Hon. Muhammad Nsereko (IND. Kampala Central Division), on fees being charged for the renewal of passports, which he said many Ugandans seem not to know of.
Nsereko said applicants for the E-passport are being charged shs250,000 instead of shs150,000 that was being paid previously for renewal. He noted that Ugandans living in the diaspora were facing challenges with having their passports renewed.
“We have over 500,000 people stuck in Dubai who cannot get new passports. Some people in the Middle East tell us that it costs them up to shs15 million to replace a lost passport,” said Nsereko.
He explained that the National IDs are a prerequisite for one to renew their passports but that this is affecting the Ugandans living and working in the diaspora.
“If someone working in Mexico as a Ugandan expatriate for five years has no access to acquisition of a National ID from the nearest High Commission, and the passport expires before his tenure is done, it will affect them greatly,” Nsereko noted.
Ngora District Woman MP Hon. Jacquiline Amongin also tasked the Internal Affairs Ministry to explain to Ugandans, the perks of using the new passport during regional and international travels.
“Some of us are holders of the African Union passport but I was once inconvenienced in Dubai when they told me that the passport was not recognised in their international system. Now, how about the new East African passport that is still unclear to many Ugandans?” Amongin asked.
The Attorney General,William Byaruhanga, however, assured the MPs that a meeting to harmonize the position on the new East African electronic passport including its legal implications, had been held with officials from the Internal Affairs Ministry who would in turn present it on the floor of Parliament.
During the 17th Ordinary Summit of the East African Community Heads of State Summit in Arusha on 02 March 2016, the Heads of States launched the East African Community e-passport that was to be issued from 2017 to December 2018 within East African states.
To date, Kenya and Tanzania are already using the new generation EAC passport while other partner states maintain different stages of implementation, including Uganda that started issuing the new passport in January 2019.
SOURCE: Parliament Uganda