MP challenges TNLA fast-track introduction of East African passports

MP challenges TNLA fast-track introduction of East African passports
A copy of South Sudan Passport

A lawmaker at the East African Legislative Assembly is urging his colleagues to push for the issuance of community passports to citizens.

Mukulia Kennedy Ayason, a second-time representative of South Sudan at the regional assembly, told The City Review on Saturday that the country should issue passports to citizens while taking into account the East African Community’s guidance and design of the passport.

All South Sudanese are required by law to receive an East African passport, and the East African Community has fulfilled its responsibility by providing the necessary guidelines, according to Mukulia.

“It’s now up to South Sudan to issue its citizens with East African passports.” What they should do is just to make sure they have the capacity and capability to own the machines to produce the passport here and distribute it to their citizens rather than import the booklets from abroad.”

Mukulia said the ball was in the court of the South Sudanese members of parliament to ‘‘request the ministry responsible for the issuance of passports to comply with the treaty requirements of issuing the East African passports.’’

However, he pointed out that in order to issue this passport, a country needs to have its own production and data storage equipment.  This is to avoid the leakage of the particulars of the applicants to malicious people via the third parties if individuals are contracted.

For Mukulia, “having that passport raises your country’s passport index,’’ hence the need to do so at the soonest time.

‘‘You can be able to enter 92 countries with an East African passport without requiring a visa.” So at the moment we are range low in terms of how you access free visas across the countries,’’ said Mukulia.

“Our passport is for five years, but the East African passport is for 10 years, meaning you don’t need to change your passport regularly because people don’t travel abroad.”

He added that there are more benefits to it because it makes sense production-wise.

“It lowers the cost of production of booklets because you don’t have to frequently produce the booklets.” It means when a person gets a passport in 2022, the next time the person gets a passport is in 2032, which gives ample time for the person to use the passport unless the person is a frequent traveler,” he stressed.

He said that with an East African passport, one can visit East African countries for six months without having to exit the country.

EALA allocated $2 million to South Sudan for the issuance of the EAC passport in the fourth EALA parliament, but the government did not claim the funds, according to Eche Likai Barri, chair of the Specialized Committee on East African Affairs and Regional Integration in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly.

“That money went back to the co-fast, but I believe it is a work in progress,” said Likai.

 East Africans may travel within the region using valid national passports or the East African Passport, which was introduced as a travel document to ease border crossing for East Africans. The East African Passport is currently only valid for travel within the EAC region. It has a six-month multiple entry validity periods, which is one of the benefits it provides to the holder.