What you need to know:
- The other crucial challenge that the ministry is grappling with is overwhelming applications, including producing instant [express] passports.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs yesterday revealed that the passport office has halved production of passports so as to enable a system upgrade that is aimed at curbing forgery.
Addressing journalists in Kampala, Mr Simon Mundeyi, the ministry spokesperson, said the upgrade will “include an Automatic Finger Integrated System (AFIS),” that he said will stop passport duplication.
“We cannot produce passports at 100 percent, so we scaled down to about 60 percent. The reason for scaling down production is not as a result of passport shortage. Not at all,” Mr Mundeyi said.
He added: “It’s because of that [why] we are not producing passports at 100 percent like we have been doing.”
The ministry expects to finish the upgrade by the end of the month.
Mr Mundeyi also responded to concerns that are currently manifesting over glitches in acquiring the new East African Community e-passport.
He said part of the problem cropped up because they were until recently relying on the previous old readable machine system, which was slow.
“Instead of taking three weeks for [processing] an ordinary passport, in some cases, [we] would take close to two months,” Mr Mundeyi said. “Upgrading the system is partly aimed at resolving this problem,” he added.
The other crucial challenge that the ministry is grappling with is overwhelming applications, including producing instant [express] passports.
“We found ourselves in a very big problem of handling express passports. Everybody was expecting to get it very fast. The capacity remained the same, the work station remained the same and our manpower remained the same,” Mr Mundeyi said.
“We had a challenge with express passports because our colleagues in the labour [export market] opted to apply for express passports. We have a total of over 158 companies, each of them has about 500 applicants and above,” he added.
He said because of this problem, people who were initially meant to get express passports in about three to five days were now getting them in a space of about two to three weeks.
Then, for ordinary passports, some people were getting them close to two months rather than the one intended month.
These problems, the ministry said, will be resolved once the system has been upgraded.