By Eddie Ssejjoba
Uganda has opened a passport office in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The office is scheduled to be launched on May 2, 2022, at a function that will be attended by a team of senior officials from the passport office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“We are opening a passport office in Abu Dhabi, UAE next week on Monday, May 02, 2022. We are launching it and this is intended to help Ugandans who are living and working in UAE,” said Simon Peter Mundeyi, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
He was Monday, April 25, briefing journalists during a weekly press meeting at the Uganda Police headquarters in Naguru, Kampala.
Mundeyi said the office will enroll applicants who will be interested in processing new passports and those that are replacing the old ones, which were phased out on April 1, 2022.
“But I have to add that these passports are not printed in the diaspora. The information will be captured and sent to Kampala, and once the passports are ready, they will be printed and sent back to the diaspora through courier,” he explained, adding that this is a standard practice everywhere in the world.
Mundeyi told journalists that the ministry has a central printing point in Kampala, where passports are printed.
“You will not see me here next week, we shall be in Abu Dhabi launching that office. This is a milestone for Uganda,” he explained.
Mundeyi also regretted that the passport office was keeping over 10,000 unclaimed passports in their stores at Kyambogo.
“I call upon Ugandans who applied for passports, and paid for them that they are ready. We sent messages to them, asking them to come and relieve us of those books because we don’t have space,” he stated, adding that they were preparing to send more messages.
“We wonder why some people paid for the passports, came and queued up here and passport came up, but the person is not willing to pick it,” Mundeyi wondered.
He said the department was soon opening a call centre at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which will act as a central point of contact to provide information.
“If you have any issues, complaints, compliments or if you want to find out about our services, you may not need to come to the ministry, but make a phone call,” Mundeyi said, adding that the phone contact will be provided when the office is launched soon.
He explained that the centre will help the ministry beat the lines that are normally seen at the passport office.
“I am happy to report that the long lines you have been seeing at the passport office are no more. We have increased on workstations to handle many passport applicants. We have also increased on the number of staff working on passports. As I talk, we are not experiencing long lines, which is a very good thing,” Mundeyi noted.
He also warned Ugandans and non-Ugandans who he said are coming to work and live in the country that visa fees will always remain at $50 (sh177,000).
Mundeyi, however, said there were complaints that some online visa sites asked for $100 (sh354,000).
“That site does not belong to us, if you open a site and it demands for $100, please close it immediately, ours is $50.”
According to the spokesperson, the old passports were phased out on April 04, 2022, although several Ugandans were still showing up at the airport with old passports and were being bounced.
“We have many times advised the public that those old passports ceased, and this information is in the public. Nobody should not show up with an old passport because they will send you away,” he cautioned.
Ordinary passport costs sh250,000, an official or service one is at sh400,000 (for MPs and heads of institutions) and a diplomatic passport costs sh500,000.