By Jariatu Bangura
After ten years, Members of Parliament have now come to terms with how Netpage, the company in charge of producing Sierra Leone’s national passport, has been ripping-off citizens for service the company never provides.
Last week, the Deputy Leader of Government Business in the House of Parliament, Hon. Silikie, moved a motion for the Minister of Internal Affairs to be summoned in parliament, so that he could provide detail explanation about the Netpage agreement that was signed between the company and the Government of Sierra Leone.
The MP expressed frustration that Sierra Leoneans continue to pay for services not provided by Netpage as agreed between the company and the Government of Sierra Leone.
He recalled that some years ago, the Sierra Leone Parliament ratified the passport agreement with an amount of Le100, 000(old Leones) which was later reviewed to Le500, 000(old Leones) and later shifted to one hundred dollars at (Le700, 000), as at that time with the main aim of having an e-passport rather than machine readable passport.
He said since then, all citizens could receive even after the increments is the same machine readable passport and sometimes, the machine could not capture all what is written in the passport when used in some airports.
He said the reason for the transition had not been seen so far, therefore the minister should explain why the sojourn was yet to be achieved as people continue to pay for something they are not getting.
He said if the company cannot produce e-passport, then there was no need for people to pay such exorbitant fees for a service that is not provided by the company.
He emphasized the need for a review of the agreement so that people will revert to the initial price of Le500,000 (old Leones).
“Mr. Speaker, we would not be paying for passport which we are not benefiting from as a country. If you look at our passport and other passports with the name e-passport, it should have a Chip which helps to describe it but we are having a machine readable passport. There is no way we will be paying huge sums of money and we are not benefiting,” he said.
Presiding Speaker, Hon. Abass C. Bundu ruled on the motion raised for the Minister to be present, with no excuse, to the House on Tuesday 21st February.
It could be recalled that several calls have been made on both issues for either a review or a termination of the agreement, as citizens continue to pay for services that are not provided by the company.