By Abraham Kizza
KAMPALA. Government has urged citizens to halt their application for passports until the commissioning of the International East African e-Passports in January 2019.
Government Spokesperson and Executive Director Uganda Media Centre, Ofwono Opondo says Citizens who wish to apply for the current National Machine Readable passports but without an urgent need for International travel between now and 10th January, 2019 should wait till the launch of the new travel documents earlier next year.
Opondo was briefing the media about Monday's cabinet resolutions during a press conference at the Uganda Media Centre, Kampala on Tuesday.
“It will be strongly advised to wait until the commissioning and launch of the e- passport system on 10th January 2019, so that they can be able to apply and be issued with the new International EAC e-Passport with an activated chip,” Opondo said.
Mr. Opondo added that the e-Passport will facilitate travel within the region and also be equipped with adequate security features that can help handle matters connected with transnational crime like identity fraud.
“The e-passports will also provide an opportunity for integration with other innovative solutions for online identification and authentication for e-Government Services,” he added.
Electronic machine-readable travel documents or e-passports will replace the traditional machine readable passports.
In April, Jacob Siminyu, Ministry of Internal Affairs Spokesperson in a statement said, with the e-passport personalised, citizens leaving or entering the country can freely do so without necessarily interacting with immigration officers using e-gates.
He added that government will soon be installing automated e-gates at Entebbe airport.
“The e-passport will tremendously enhance the integrity of the Ugandan passport worldwide, across embassies and airlines. Airline check-in as well as immigration border/airport controls will be less intensive, and when we install e-gates as has been planned for in Entebbe, personalised Ugandans returning home will go through the exciting feeling of entering their country on their own,” he said
The e-passport is designed with a special chip, which holds information that is printed on the data page of the passport such as the holder’s name, date of birth, among others in addition to other secure biographic information such as fingerprints.
Mr. Siminyu added that forging of e-passports will be impossible because it is extremely difficult to change data which is held on the new travel documents.