By Our reporter
There is growing frustration among millions of Ugandans due to massive delays in passport processing at the Directorate of Immigration Control, under Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Both the applicants and those intending to apply remain hopeless as the Ministry maintains that the delay will soon be sorted, as of when, there is no answer.
Simon Mundeyi, the new spokesperson of the ministry on Friday said they had procured a new machine which the workers are “still studying.”
The passport mess resulted from government’s decision to ban ordinary passport having adopted machine readable East African E-passport.
An unprecedented demand for passport renewal has caused chaos.
The demand overwhelmed supply.
It has raised queries why the ministry would introduce a new policy that it can’t implement.
Previously, an express passport costing shs, 300,000 would take three days to be processed while ordinary booklet valued at shs 150,000 took 1 to 2 weeks.
However, with the new policy, the rates for application have since changed, cost raised but all this comes with a huge delay in production. For example an express passport now goes for shs 500,000 but it takes forever to be printed.
Some of the officials at the Ministry have used this chance to milk large sums from frustrated applicants promising to deliver in short time but in vain.
Many businessmen have paid a bribe of up to shs 1 million, for an express passport but until today they have nothing.
For example, the citizens who applied in April for express passports, to date remain waiting.
The applicants of the ordinary booklet have no hope of getting a passport soon.
According to inside sources, the delay is caused by many factors.
Without mentioning names, the source said that, a new commissioner at the ministry who has not taken time to study the dynamics but immediately introduced harsh policies has largely caused the breakdown.
“Since there is no business most workers have abandoned their offices and are doing side jobs to survive. They accuse their new boss of making rushed decisions which backfired,” a source said.
For now the passport office is presiding over an absolute shambles.
The ministry a fortnight ago announced that the Kyambogo office had a breakdown and business would resume soon. However, the ministry urged those who applied early enough to pick their passports.
The applicants who go there have many times bounced.
“There is no passport printed. But shockingly the ministry keeps telling people to pay money and apply. So where is the money going or what is it used for?” a source questioned.
The Commissioner for Citizenship and Passport Control, Brig Johnson Namanya couldn’t respond to our messages when repeatedly reached for explanation.
Startlingly, the entire leadership of the ministry is led by army generals, with Gen Kahinda Otaffire at the helm, deputized by Gen David Muhoozi, Gen Joseph Musanyufu as Permanent Secretary and Brig Namanya in Immigrations.
Soldiers have been known for being competent and running institutions efficiently. Gen Aronda Nyakairima, a former Army Commander who would later be posted at the Internal Affairs Ministry had caused a great change by streamlining the institution. During his time as the Minister, there were no queues for passport at the premises.
Many people regret his death (RIP).
A source added that, the Ministry passed budget to procure hi-tech equipment from Germany and later London.
“But up to now, there is no single machine from those countries,” said a source
“All we have is the equipment from China. So what happened to the money?”
Equally, Brig Namanya didn’t respond to this.
The publicist Mundeyi had earlier told this website that “We are printing passports normally sir.”
“About express, it is true we got a challenge having received so very applicants for the same service. 138 labour companies applied for express passports and this overwhelmed our capacity but we have since increased our work stations and this is being handled well,” he said.
The Ministry of Labour has sought a meeting with 138 labour firms to chart way forward since the companies are losing millions everyday.