KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Ministry of Internal Affairs has revealed that out of the 43 million Ugandans, 99% do not own passports leaving only 0.003% (about 1.5 million Ugandans) as the population with the travel and identification document.
The Revelation was on Monday, July 17, made by the ministry spokesperson Mr. Simon Peter Mudeyi while addressing journalists in Kampala.
“Out of the population of approximately 43 million Ugandans, only 1.561 million hold passports. This means 0.0364% of Ugandans have passports and the rest of Ugandans at 99.87% don’t hold passports. This is a very worrying trend,” Mundeyi said.
Mundeyi described the statistical data as a worrying figure saying despite throngs of applicants storming the immigration office to obtain passports, less than 2 million Ugandans succeed to have one compared to other countries in the world where almost every citizen has a passport.
This, according to Mundeyi is partly attributed to the low applications to the high cost of passports, people’s mentality that passports are issued to corporate people, and individuals who intend to travel abroad.
“A number of Ugandans believe that passports are only needed for travel purposes, especially outside the country, and with the coming of the national IDs as documents that can be used for travel to various East African countries; many have kept away from getting passports,” he said.
To address the bias, Mundeyi explained that the ministry has now embarked on the process of sensitizing Ugandans about how to acquire a passport so that the sharp Ugandans, the brokers, do not con them.
“We urge all foreign residents who are living and working in the country to make sure they legalize their stay in the country. Foreign nationals should visit our portal, immigration.go.ug and apply for the relevant immigration activities that match what they are doing in the country.”
Mundeyi said passports are national documents and therefore every Ugandan should apply and own one and avoid applying during emergency times.
“Recently children were traveling on their parent’s travel documents but the law has changed. We are now issuing passports to every Uganda from the age of one day,” he said.
Mundeyi advised Ugandans not to apply for passports when they are faced with emergencies but to apply on time to avoid inconveniences.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson also revealed that a number of Ugandans have been frustrated from applying for passports after seeing colleagues and relatives lose huge sums of money to conmen disguising as brokers.
He cited a senior government official who was recently defrauded of shs2 million by a broker under the pretext of helping him to process a passport and after waiting for over five hours, he came to realize he had been defrauded before he contacted the ministry officials for assistance.
“You don’t have to use brokers because the process is easy. You can apply for a passport while seated in your bedroom or in a taxi. Everything is online, including payment of the passport fees,” he said.
He however noted that government has now started efforts to sensitize Ugandans on acquiring passports not only as travel documents but also as identification and security documents for citizens of the East African country.