It appears the ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ministry of Internal Affairs specifically the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, are working at cross purposes.
The latter announced last year that it was phasing out the ordinary passports and replacing them with the East African e-passports.
The public was assured that the travel document was internationally recognized, and it had been enhanced with more security features. The new passport was supposed to be issued by December 10, 2018 and the old one phased out by January 2022.
Therefore, some Ugandans have already applied and replaced the old ones with this new travel document. However, it appears this document is not fully recognized by the international community.
Recently some people wanted to travel to Denmark. When they presented their new East African e-passport, the consular office at the Danish embassy rejected it.
They were told: “This passport is not yet approved by the Danish authorities and, therefore, we cannot issue visas for this passport. We don’t know how long it takes for this new passport to be approved.”
This is the dilemma many more Ugandans with such passports are likely to face. It is possible this confusion obtains at other embassies and perhaps airports save for the East African countries.
The ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement issued last week to address that confusion, said the Danish foreign office was issued with samples of the new passport and Denmark was in the process of approving it.
This statement basically means that Uganda issued new passports without confirming whether the international community had given its much-needed nod of approval to the changes.
This is absurd and careless. What will happen to holders of such passports who have emergency cases and need to travel without fail? The new passport should not be soiled with rejections occasioned by the incompetence of the officers concerned. We hope this matter will be sorted out soon.
In the same vein, we pray that the new passport comes with sanctity. In the past, the Ugandan passport has been preyed on by a lot of fraudsters in the region.
This was partly possible because of the connivance of public officials with criminals in the region who bribed the former with huge sums of money. One can only assume that with the advent of advanced technology, sanctity can be returned to our travel document.