April, 30, 2019
By Joseph S. Margai, Strategic Communications Coordinator, State House
The Immigration Department, which is one of the departments under the supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, is set to open its branches in both Port Loko city and Kamakwie respectively.
Port Loko city, a regional headquarter and Kamakwie in the Karene District in the North-Western region of Sierra Leone, were created after the 2015 population and housing census by the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Since their creation, the Immigration Department has not yet established its offices there.
But with the advent of the ‘New Direction’ administration, pioneered by President Bio, arrangements have been finalised for the establishment of the offices in the newly created region.
President Bio’s abled-lieutenant at the Immigration Department, is Lieutenant (Rtd) Andrew Jaiah Kaikai-the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO), whose appetite for the expansion and improvement of the department is undoubtedly clear.
In just one year under the ‘New Direction’ administration, the Chief Immigration Officer and his team of hardworking staff and management, have been able to change the perception of many Sierra Leoneans from passport saga to a reliable and trusted government institution working in the interest of all Sierra Leoneans.
Lieutenant (Rtd) Andrew Jaiah Kaikai, an American trained lawyer, said the reasons for the establishment of his institution’s branches in the newly created region, is to provide effective oversight and monitoring over the Lungi International Airport in Port Loko District, Gbalamuya-Kambia Immigration Checkpoints in Kambia District, the Tambakha-Siminbujie and Tambakha-Yonbanjie border crossing points in the Karene District.
Additionally, he noted, Sierra Leoneans in these locations will be provided with easy access to immigration services.
The CIO and his team have put effective mechanisms in place, which included but not limited to, the thorough screening of applications for passports so that Sierra Leonean passports don’t fall into wrong hands.
In fact, the Immigration Department is currently investigating a number of suspected cases of alleged passports fraud impounded at the Lungi International Airport.
Also, the Department has withdrawn diplomatic and service passports that were provided to individuals who were not entitled to them.
Under the ‘New Direction’ administration, Sierra Leone has for the first time in her history, developed a migration policy.
Efforts have been finalised to commence the review of outdated Immigration laws of the country.
The reasons are to update and upgrade the immigration laws so as to catch up with current international dynamics.
The department has finalised efforts, for the first time, to introduce E-Electronic Visa and Visa on arrival in to the Immigration systems.
“By this action, the tourism industry will be boosted and the creation of job opportunities will be enhanced. Also, it will enhance the opening up of the country to business,” Lieutenant (Rtd) Andrew Jaiah Kaikai said.
With government’s determination through the Immigration Department, to protect national sovereignty and security, the institution has identified porous border areas, and effective border management procedures and controls are now being implemented.
Capacity building for the Immigration staff has always been the vision of Lieutenant (Rtd) Andrew Jaiah Kaikai.
He sought out support from the European Union, ECOWAS, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and International Centre for Migration Policy Development, to facilitate the conduct of a comprehensive border management training for all border management agencies in Sierra Leone, in April this year.
The major objective was to capacitate border officials and border communities on the importance of effective border screening and timely information sharing.