Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has directed the Minister of Internal Affairs (Kahinda Otafire to explain why the Immigration Department has cut down on the production of passports, which has left many Ugandans stranded due to failure to get their passports.
The directive followed a matter raised by Ronald Balimwezo (Nakawa East) who revealed that the Ministry of Internal Affairs cut down production of passports by 50% and also introduced an online system, and he has been approached by many Ugandans complaining that despite sitting for interviews with the Immigration department, it has taken Ministry of Internal Affairs over three months to sit their interviews.
Balimwezo said: “An ordinary passport costs Shs250,000 and it takes two weeks for production and an express passport usually costs Shs400,000 and it takes 3-5days for production. The minister of internal affairs should explain why there is low production of passports. They should also explain why express take over three months.”
It should be recalled that in May 2022, the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced plans to cut down on the production of passports so as to enable a system upgrade that is aimed at curbing forgery.
Reports indicate that the passport office has three machines, each with the capacity to produce 1000 passports daily and at the time of the upgrade, only one machine was working.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Government prints over 3000 passports processed from the head office in Kampala, but this is supplemented by other regional offices in Mbale, Mbarara and Gulu and mission offices in Washington, USA and London in the United Kingdom.
Another lawmaker Medard Lubega (Busiro East) also asked the Deputy Speaker to task the Ministry of Internal Affairs to explain why Ugandans who had older passports are being forced to pay for the new East African Passports yet their older passports hadn’t expired, saying the latest directive is curtailing on the right of movement for these Ugandans.
“There was also public outcry why Ugandans are being required to get a new passport having withdrawn the other passports because a passport is a guarantee for freedom of movement, so that freedom is curtailed when you tell a Ugandan who had a running passport that we have decided to change the design of the new passport. The minister should equally explain whether we are stealing from Ugandans by requiring them to pay again,” said Lubega.