Members of Parliament on Wednesday descended on Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, and grilled him for watching helplessly as the country ran out of ordinary passports.
The minister was appearing before parliament following a shortage of ordinary passports that threw the country in a crisis.
In his statement during a session presided over by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, Jeje said the plan was to phase out the current machine readable passport and replace them with the new generation of e-passport.
He said the process of procuring a provider for the e-passport involves many stakeholders and is still on-going.
“The ministry is experiences an unprecedented increase in demand for ordinary passports especially those seeking employment.”
He added: “We receive from 450 to 700 requests for passports application daily. Only those with a proven medical cases, students on scholarship, certified persons will be given passports.”
Dissatisfied with the statement, the Leader of Oppositon in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza, reminded the minister that Uganda has lost close to Shs2 billion in a month due to the passport shortages.
She said the shortage of passport is a means for corruption as people will do anything to get a passport.
“I ask that the minister withdraws this statement for it is one showing that the ministry is corrupt,” Kiiza demanded.
Facing him directly, Kiiza told minister Jeje to “go and bring the old passports, we don’t support this statement”.
Kiiza was reinforced by Kadaga who told Jeje that apart from one legislator, no one else believed what he had told the house.
“Other than one MP, no one supports your statement, it infringes on the rights of Ugandans,” Kadaga told the minister.
Jeje then worsened the situation by acknowledging that Ugandan passports are being held by non-Ugandans, saying “these were issued due to corruption”.
He said, however, that the Attorney General has cleared for the new agreement allowing the old passports to be procured within a month.
“I have not said there are no passports, but that there are few ordinary passports. We expect the new stock of the ordinary passports to arrive within a month.”
Speaker Kadaga asked that the pledge be noted down that the minister has promised Ugandans to have ordinary passports within a month.
“If you had told us, the ordinary passports would be procured within a month, we wouldn’t be debating,” Kadaga was growing impatient.