Government stranded with 6,000 abandoned passports

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KAMPALA. The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration control at the Ministry of Internal Affairs is stranded with 6,129 abandoned passports as the applicants deliberately failed to pick them despite meeting all the necessary requirements.
The passports, which are currently being kept in the three passport cabins at the delivery section, have been accumulating since 2004, something officials at the Immigration department say, require extra resources in terms of labour and time to monitor them and also, consume space.
Daily Monitor has obtained a notice dated 16 January 2017 from the In-charge of Passport delivery section, Mr Epet Pius Innocent to the Passport control officer, showing statistics of the uncollected Passports.

“…as earlier requested, below are the details of the Passports that were issued and booked out from strong Room to Delivery section and have never been collected by the owners,” reads in part the notice.
Mr Epet noted that some of these Passports have long expired, meaning that they can never been used even when the owners decided to pick them. A passport expires after ten years but it advisable to renew it six months before expiry.
All Passports, Visas, Passes and other travel documents in Uganda are issued by the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration control.

Information availed to this reporter indicates that the first Passport Cabin has 3,210 passports, the second Cabin has 1646 Passports while the third one has 1273, which brings the total number of the uncollected Passports to 6,129.
This reporter visited the Passport delivery section last week and found Passports pilled in the Cabins, with labels showing the number of passports accommodated by each Cabin.
The Internal Affairs Ministry Spokesperson, Mr Jacob Siminyu said the number of uncollected Passports has been accumulating over the years despite several reminders to their owners.
“Majority of people apply for Passports expecting for some opportunities but when such chances flop, they lose hope and just abandon their Passports. They find no importance in picking them since their hopes of travelling abroad are already shattered,” Mr Siminyu said.

He added that they have previously announced these uncollected passports through the media but their owners have since turned a deaf ear.
Mr Siminyu further disclosed that they will soon start issuing Passport forms to only those applicants who have paid the Passport fee because majority of people who take these forms, don’t return them.
“For instance, we issue over 400,000 Passport forms annually but it’s only half of these forms that are returned. This costs us a lot in terms of stationary and we believe that if we compel applicants to pay for the Passport fee before issuance of the forms, it would definitely cut costs,” he said.

Currently, Passport application forms are picked either from the nearest Immigration office or downloaded from online and applicants only pay Passport fees after their forms have been verified.
But Mr Siminyu noted that since the forms are never paid for, many people rush to pick them and abandon the process, something he said, drains them financially.
He revealed that they receive about 500 to 700 Passport applications daily. Asked about the increase in the number of applications, he noted that the period of issuing a Passport has since been reduced from 10 days to only one week.

However, the Supervisor Passport front offices at the directorate of Citizenship and Passport control, Mr Gilbert Kabuzire, decried forgery of documents by the applicants and said that this affects their work as they spend a lot of time verifying them but they turn out to be invalid.
“At least five percent of applicants forge documents but we have always arrested and prosecuted some of them in courts of law. We are therefore urging the public to desist from this act because we shall not hesitate to arrest them,” he said.
Application for an ordinary passport costs Shs150,000 and Shs300,000 for Express applications while Shs250,000 for Official Passports. Application for a Diplomatic Passport costs Shs300, 000.

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