MPs slam officials over e-passports

EALA MPs Rose Akol (centre), George Odongo (right) and Paul Musamali interact during a meeting at Parliament

MPs have lashed out at the internal affairs ministry for issuing the international East African e-passports without what they described as thorough engagement of various stakeholders such as embassies and Parliament. Last week, the Danish Embassy in Kampala rejected a visa application by a Ugandan, after they presented the newly introduced international East African e-passport.

“Why did the Danish Embassy reject this passport yet it is recognised? The visa application was rejected on the basis of this passport. Are you liaising with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deal with this?” Lyandro Komakech, the Gulu Municipality MP, asked.

On Wednesday, the MPs including those from the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), who were attending a sensitisation meeting on East African Community (EAC) matters at Parliament, met officials from the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control over the progress made on the issuance of EAC e-passports to Ugandans.

In November last year, the Government announced that the transition to the East African e-passports is in line with the January 15, 2021 deadline set by the six-member East African Community countries, to phase out traditional readable passports.

“It is not because we wanted e-passports, it is because of the technological advancement and forgery of ordinary passports by people on Nasser Road,” Marcelino Bwesigye, the acting commissioner of inspection in the internal affairs ministry, said.

Bwesigye told the MPs that early issuance of the EAC e-passport commenced on December 7, 2018 to phase out the ordinary passports by end of January 2021. Bwesigye said Ugandans planning to acquire the EAC e-passports would have to prove their professions by furnishing the immigration authorities with copies of academic documents.

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Lukwago Joseph grew up in a newspaper family, and rumor has it that instead of playing the guitar in his infancy, his parents put a reporter’s notebook and a pen next to him shortly after he turned born eight years. Before becoming editor of UGANDANZ, Lukwago was a parliament news editor for WBS TV. He joined UGANDANZ in July 2018, A few months after the company launched. Lukwago also spent five years as a freelance reporter, where he covered reporting for the highest bidder, intelligence, foreign policy, and Ugandan police. Lukwago graduated from Makerere University in 2008 with a B.A. in Journalism and worked on his college newspaper.