As reported by the Daily Monitor yesterday under the headline, ‘Nira starts massive 3-month registration for IDs’, the National Identification and Registration Authority has started a massive three-month exercise of registration of national IDs.
This is a welcome move considering that many institutions - from commercial banks to health institutions - demand an individual’s ID or National Identification Number (NIN) before they can provide any service.
Besides, the ID is a useful document when it comes to travel for those without passports. While the ID is provided to the individual free of charge, the passport comes at a cost that many can’t afford. A national ID, therefore, enables many people to easily travel to some countries in the East African Community, which countries accept the ID as a form of identification.
Different from the previous time where people registered right from the village level, the registration will now be done at the sub-county, town council and division level.
It would have been preferable for the exercise to be done at village level to reduce crowding. Secondly, the higher the office where registration is done, the higher the likelihood of having conmen tricking people. Such conmen are likely to take advantage of people, asking them to pay some money to get the job done “faster or better”.
Having it done at the village level would also have made it easier for the elderly, sickly, and those with disabilities.
Nira also admits to the problem of understaffing. However, since they have come out to start the registration exercise again, there is possibly a plan to handle the numbers should they become many, and hopefully, people will not have to line up for too long, as this might see them giving up as they have other pressing needs to attend to.
In the same story, it was reported that 2.2 million cards have not been picked by owners while 2.4 million Ugandans aged 16 and above have also not enrolled for the IDs. This means that Nira and its partners need to do a lot of sensitisation across the country and to urge people to pick their IDs.
A number of people have missed out on services because they do not have this required form of identification. Others have found themselves victims when security agents picked them up because they did not have identification.
While it can be argued that the agents should do a better job of profiling the suspects they pick, one would not find themselves in a dire situation if they had an ID. Let NIRA, therefore, ensure that people up to the village level are made aware of the exercise.