Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) is stuck with more than 10,000 unclaimed e-passports.
Simon Peter Mundeyi, the Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson has asked all people who applied for passports to go to Kyambogo access centre and pick their documents as they are facing challenges of space.
“We have thousands and thousands of passports that were applied for, processed, issued and they are lying in our stores in Kyambogo. I call upon Ugandans who applied for passports, actually paid for them to come and pick them. We don’t have space where to keep those passports,” said Mundeyi.
However, some people believe DCIC is not using the right channels to make people know that their passports are ready. Cleophas Mugenyi wondered why immigration does not publish the names of all people whose passports are ready for collection on its website or in newspapers.
“Why not publish the names online and in print. If you send messages and no one responds, then you need to change the strategy. What if someone lost the phone on the day you sent the message?,” asked Mugenyi.
But Mundeyi said they have been sending messages to contact details that were provided by the applicants but the responses are very small. Immigration says they are going to issue more messages to the applicants or continuously speak about unclaimed e-passports through the media until owners pick them up.
Ronnie Mukundane, the spokesperson of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), says because of the long queues in the system, many people are opting for express passports which are processed within a week.
Mukundane explains that many of the labour export companies apply for their clients but the notification messages for ready passports go to individuals. He adds that the messages don’t also come out at once.
“You might take over 100 people to apply for passports but the messages go to individuals and they don’t come out on the same day. Sometimes you have to wait until all the people who took to apply get the notification and then you pick them. This is what sometimes increases the numbers of unclaimed passports,” Mukundane explains.
Uganda outlawed Machine Readable Passports (MRP) on April 4th, 2022 replacing them with East Africa e-Passport. At the time of the phasing out of the old passports, Uganda had over 1.5 million applicants in the system waiting to get e-passports according to Mundeyi.
He says there are now more than one million Ugandans with the Machine Readable Passport. But because of the enormous sensitization and increasing number of people going for jobs abroad, by April 4th, 2022 more than two million people had acquired the e-passport.
Nevertheless, DCIC data shows that out of one million Ugandans who owned the old passports, only five hundred and fifty thousand have acquired the e-passports. Mundeyi says they are still waiting for over 450,000 with MRP to apply for e-passports.