5th October 2023
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Immigration department runs out of passport booklets

Author: Michael Daniel | Published: Sunday, June 4, 2023

South Sudanese Passport booklets handed over to the Immigration and Passport Department in 2022. | File photo

The Department of  Civil Registry, Passports and Immigration said Saturday it is struggling to issue new regular passports due to a shortage of booklets.

Col. Johnny Buol, Director for Moral Orientation and Information and Public Relations, DCR, NPI said the situation resulted from the government’s failure to pay for the arrears of German passport company Muhlbauer.

“I would like to inform our citizens that the directories have some challenges from this month the issues of shortages of passport booklet,” he said at a news conference in Juba.

“As we know passport booklet is brought from Germany through, the Muhlbauer company and this company is demanding some arrest of 1.7 million dollars as we pay the money we shall receive 212000 booklets within one week.”

Col. Buol said in the event of payment of arrears to the company, the department will receive 212,000 booklets.

According to him, this will enable the department administration to reap at least 20 million US dollars in issuance fees.

“If these booklets are sold out, we shall get 20 million USA dollars. We are following the matter with the Ministry of Finance.”

Muhlbauer reportedly stopped printing South Sudan passport booklets even as the Directorate of Nationality, Passport, and Immigration said in February 2023 that the country had renewed its agreement with the German firm.

The Deputy Director of ICT at the Directorate, Lt. Col David Oromo Jobo said at the time, the government managed to pay, in installments, the 5.9 million dollars owed to the company.

David said the company would continue printing the nationality and passport certificates as it waits for the pending payment balance.

Col. Johnny Buol told the press Saturday, June 3 that the Ministry of Finance and Planning has been informed to look into the matter.

‘Booklets sold at black market’

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization alleged that some individuals within the Directorate of Passport and Immigration are selling passport booklets that they are selling in the black market.

Edmund Yakani said Friday that the booklets are secretly being sold at $250 against the law.

He said the practice is exploitative and called for an easy access to passports by the citizens.

“We are aware that a few months ago, the Directorate of Immigration ran out (of booklets) but we have seen a practice that is disturbing, some individual within the Directorate have access to passport booklet and they are selling them to citizen at black market rate at the cost of  250 dollars,” Yakani said in a press statement.

“This is disturbing and discrimination act. South Sudanese have the right to access passports equally to exercise their movement outside the country.”

In response to Yakani’s allegations, the Director of Finance at the Immigration Department, Lt. Col Phillip Kuch Manyuon insists immigration operates according to law.

He called on the public to be aware of immigration services prices.

“We in the immigration, are working in accordance with law and regulation. We have South Sudan Acts 2009 and 2011. But people go out there with the conceived idea that we are selling passports for 250 dollars,” he said.

“Yes, the 250 dollars are for business passports not for regular passports. The regular passport is for 100 dollars. Let our people be aware and mindful of our prices.”

South Sudanese have often criticized the department’s delayed issuance of passports and national identity cards – which is dependent on the multi-million contract with the German firm.

The German technology provider is known for threatening to shut down the system over failure to pay bills.

South Sudan immigration authorities have taken measures, including extending the passports validity from five to ten years, to cope with booklets scarcity.

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