Ugandan Govt to burn 50,000 untaken passports worth Shs12.5b


The government says it will destroy more than 50,000 uncollected passports worth Shs12.5 billion in a bid to create more storage space.
The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control said most of the untaken passports belong to maids who were seeking employment in the Middle East.

Mr Simon Mundeyi, the Internal Affairs ministry’s spokesperson, said some of these passports have remained unclaimed for longer than six years. He said their predicament has been worsened by an additional 2,000 unclaimed passports applied for between January to April this year.
“We now have about 50,000 passports in our stores across the country, which have not been claimed by the owners. Since every day we have new applicants, having so many uncollected passports poses a challenge to our stores,” he said.

Uganda issues three types of passports, namely ordinary, official, and diplomatic, with light blue for ordinary, green for official, and red for diplomatic passports. However, the Directorate could not readily categorise the uncollected travel documents.

But Mr Mundeyi said: “Most of these passports belong to girls who were supposed to be taken to the Middle East and since the labour export activities have drastically reduced, they lost interest in the documents as they returned to their villages.”
Application for an ordinary passport booklet costs Shs250,000, while the official passports (also called service passports) are charged Shs400,000, and the diplomatic acquired at Shs500,000. It costs Shs400,000 to process an express ordinary passport in three days.

Most of the maids who seek jobs in the Middle East pay Shs250,000 for an ordinary passport, which would amount to nearly Shs12.5 billion when the bulk of 50,000 unclaimed passports are considered as those of maids. However, some of the applicants opt for express processing, which means the cost would climb higher even for this category of domestic workers.

“The ministry is, therefore, planning to destroy passports which have spent years in the store because we don’t have where to keep them. These passports have been unclaimed since 2018,” Mr Mundeyi told Monitor.

The Ministry said the buildup of uncollected passports is partly due to applicants not being able to receive messages asking them to collect their travel documents.

“In some rare cases, the passports are ready, messages are sent to them [applicants] to collect but their phones are often off or they just don’t have a network. If a message is sent and the phone is off or doesn’t have a network, it will bounce and will never be re-sent,” Mr Mundeyi said.
In an effort to offset the logjam and streamline the processing of new applications, the ministry has asked people who applied for a passport to promptly pick them up or check with the ministry’s website to find out the status of their documents.

Passport issuance
Passports allow for exit from and re-entry into a country and also enable citizens to travel in a foreign country in line with visa requirements, and request protection for the citizen while abroad.
Regulations governing the issuance of passports in Uganda stipulate that express passports can be obtained in four days while ordinary passports take two weeks.

Uganda’s labour export
Data from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development shows that at least 120,459 workers left Uganda between January 2022 and December 2023 in search of employment. The figures indicate that women dominated with 109,773 compared to 10,686 male. The Middle East, in the 10 last years, remained the destination of choice, taking in 107,448 workers.


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