Ugandan Government has now introduced a new criteria for the issuance of passports to address what minister said is temporary shortage of ordinary machine readable passports.
General Jeje Odongo, the Minister of Internal Affairs attributed the shortage to low stock levels of ordinary passports that the ministry is experiencing as a result of unprecedented increase in demand especially from people those employment abroad.
“The ministry is overwhelmed by the number of people seeking employment abroad from 450 to 700 as daily passport applications almost double the daily average demand,” Odongo told Parliament on Wednesday.
In a statement to parliament, the minister explained measures put in place due to the temporary shortage of ordinary machine readable passports pass ports by the ministry.
“Under the new criteria, passports will be issued to people with proven medical cases, certified applicants proceeding on government business , students on scholarships and any other case of emergency nature that deserve in the circumstance,” Odongo said.
He also informed parliament of Uganda’s failure to adhere to the April 3, regional requirement of phasing out the current machine readable passports by introducing electronic passports with a new design and additional security.
A year ago, the six East African Community (EAC) member states committed phase out their traditional passports by December 2018. He noted that it would take at least a month before the rest of Ugandans outside the selected categories of people receive passports.
However, Odongo stated that member states had agreed to extend the deadline to December 2017.
Citizens with traditional but valid passports would have to surrender the old ones to get the e–passports.
“The process of procuring a provider for the e-passport involves many stakeholders and is still ongoing,”
MPs condemn government
A section of MPs attacked government for failure to put in place clear a clear policy and guidelines on the issuance of passports.
Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka municipality) said government has failed to check out corruption at the passport control officers in the ministry of internal affairs hence diplomatic passports falling into the hands of wrong elements among other problems.
“There are many undeserving individuals with diplomatic passports yet people who are entitled to them don’t have. The minister of internal affairs must deal with this matter,” Mpuuga said.
John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya) said that on many occasions, Uganda’s diplomatic passports have been found in possession of drug traffickers.
“The minister should put his house in order because I know of rich witchdoctors and pastors who have diplomatic passports. Some traditional leaders also have diplomatic passports while Mps hold official passports yet they are higher in rank. This is irregular,” said Nambeshe.