Regional Passport Centres to Resume Operations Next Month

Jacob Siminyu, the Spokesperson of the Internal Affairs Ministry, blames the labour export companies for the congestion at the immigration directorate.
MIA spokesperson

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Three regional passport issuance centres will resume operations next month to reduce congestion at the Directorate of Immigration in Kampala.

The centres in Arua, Mbale and Gulu were closed last year following the outbreak of covid-19. They were also under renovation.

However there have been concerns about the extremely long queues at the immigration control offices on Port Bell road of people seeking passports. Some spend more than five hours in queues.

Several girls told Uganda Radio Network said they are transported to the ministry between 4 am and 6 am from districts such as Namayingo, Mbale, Sironko, Iganga and Mayuge.

“I was told to come and I fill forms for my passport. I came with 17 other girls. We were transported from Jinja town but we come from different districts. We don’t know the time we shall be leaving this place,” one Aisha Nandudu said. 

To reduce the congestion, Jacob Siminyu, the Spokesperson of the Internal Affairs Ministry, reveals that with effect from next months, regional passport centres in Mbale, Gulu and Arua shall resume operations.  This, Siminyu, believes, will reduce congestion as several people are ferried from upcountry even when they are not on appointment.

“For people who come from the western region, they can utilize Mbarara regional office. We are currently refurbishing Mbale, Gulu and Arua. All these offices will soon be operational and we hope it will reduce numbers at our headquarters,” Siminyu said.

Siminyu blames the labour export companies for the congestion at the immigration directorate.

Siminyu explains that labour export companies know when the girls will be attended to but they decide to bring them very early in the morning.

“We haven’t known the motive of bringing a person as 7 am when her appointment is 3 pm. You should bring your people at least 30 minutes to appointment time. We shall use our means to chase them away,” Siminyu warns. 

Earlier on, immigration revealed that the number seeking passports daily had hiked. This is attributed to the Covid-19 lockdown where there was no travel abroad since several countries placed travel sanctions.

Before the Covid-19 lockdown, immigration was attending to 400 to 500 people every day. But currently, they handle 800 to 1,200 people in a day. Besides, crowding at Port Bell, immigration has expressed concern about increasing cases of forged Covid-19 test certificates.

Siminyu says they were registering four cases regularly but they have now increased to 10 or more. Travellers have been warned against getting fake certificates because they will not beat systems at the Airport.

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Interpol Director, Charles Birungi, has also revealed that they have started the process of having centres in various policing regions where people can apply and access certificates of Good Conduct.

Birungi also reveals that numbers at Interpol have soared since October last year when travel sanctions were lifted. Before the Covid-19 lockdown, Interpol was attending to 130 to 180 but the numbers are now over 300 every day.

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