October 16, 2019
By Jeneba A Conteh
Civil Society Consortium on Human Rights and Good Governance has yesterday (Tuesday, 15th October, 2019) opposed the proposed increase in the price of passport from seven hundred Thousand Leones to One Millions Leones.
Reading a press statement at the headquarters of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) on Campbell Street in Freetown, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) -Society For Human Rights Remedy and Actual Governance, Ibrahim Sorie Dumbuya, said they have been gauging the views of Sierra Leoneans on the proposed imposition of an increased fees for obtaining a passport.
He said one thing that clearly came out during their engagement with ordinary Sierra Leoneans, government officials and public servants, was that people were opposed to the proposed tariff and generally viewed it as a way of undermining the government’s agenda towards development.
He noted that they as a consortium working in the interest of democracy have gone further to investigate the real case for the increase in the fees, and found out that it was a result of a flawed and unpatriotic contract that was entered into by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
He said the current passport contract was used by the Sierra Leone Peoples Party led administration as one of the campaign tools to unseat the then All People’s Congress (APC) government.
“We were expecting an urgent cancellation of the Net page/ De La Rue passport contract since the inception of the New Direction. At the moment government is receiving nothing from the proceeds of the passport as recently mentioned by the Chief Immigration Officer,” he said.
He called for the termination of the contract with Net Page because their findings not only showed weakness in the mechanisms used in the passport chip, but also the certificates are not compliant to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.
“This is a complete breach pf contract and gives the government the authority to cancel or allow other company to operate,” he emphasised.
He echoed the need to contract a company that will offer better and ICOA compliant passport, decentralise the process to the provinces and Sierra Leoneans embassies in the diaspora and increase the duration of expiration to Ten (10yrs) rather than five years .
He said the said company should construct an immigration department for Sierra Leone free of charge, reduce the passport price to $60 equivalent to Le 600,000, increase the pages from 32 to 48 pages, and provide diplomatic and service passports on free basis as an entitlement to officials.