By Alhaji Haruna Sani
Many citizens have been taken aback by a public notice issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC, which announced new prizes in US dollars for various identity cards including the National Identity Cards for Sierra Leoneans.
Concerns Sierra Leoneans have cried that the costly prices for the new ID Cards will further exacerbate the already gross economic hardship in the country.
According to the MIC public notice issued last week, contract for the ID Cards was ratified by the House of Parliament, thus National ID Card which was previously issued for Le 12,500 (Old Leones) slightly above $1 will now be issued for US$7 over Le 120,000 (old Leones) for the same duration of 5 years.
“Sierra Leone ECOWAS ID Card for Sierra Leoneans wishing to travel within ECOWAS member countries will cost US%12 for duration of 1 year. ECOWAS ID card for use within ECWAS member countries will cost US$20 for 1 year duration,” the notice reads.
The ministry went on to clarify that holders of the Non-National ID Cards for Non-ECOWAS Foreign Nationals in Sierra Leone will pay US$100 for the ID Cards for duration of one year.
This latest development has sparked up serious debate and wide condemnation by Sierra Leone across the country. “The decision by those in powers to exponentially increase prices for our National Identity card is very unreasonable. Our leaders should go back to the drawing board to reverse that decision or else many citizens cannot afford the sum,” Abubakar Kamara stated.
However, the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) has through public notices informed the general public that it has in collaboration with Contrast System SL Limited produced encrypted and multi-purpose Biometric Identity Cards and ID Verification System across the country.
The NCRA has also boasted that all the categories of Biometric ID Cards and the ID Verification platform will ensure proper and reliable identification, authentication and consistency in personal information of individuals to match with the prizes.