South Sudan to start printing East African Community e-passports

The Director General of the Directorate of Immigration, Passport, Nationality and Civil Registry on Monday said plans are in the advanced stages to start printing of the East African Community (EAC) e-passport within the country.

Addressing the media in Juba on Monday, Gen Atem Marol Biar, said he is, together with a technician, waiting for a visa to travel to Germany to design the passport booklet.

“Last week, I went to Uganda to seek a visa for Germany and together with a technician we are going to Germany so that we design the booklet,” he revealed. “As soon as we come with the booklet, we will start the printing. We will start with the passport of the president and then the rest will follow.”

The EAC had initially set 31 December 2018 as the deadline for phasing out the issuance of the traditional machine-readable passports, however, following the Covid-19 outbreak in 2019, EAC member states extended the deadline to January 2021. This was also not met and member states were forced to internally set their dates for citizens to embrace the new EAC e-passports.

Kenya recently set the final deadline for the e-passport on 30 November 2022.

Gen. Marol however attributed South Sudan’s delay in embracing the EAC e-passport to the conflict and the bad economic situation in the country.

Relatedly, the immigration chief defended the recent increase in the fees for a regular passport and other services offered by his directorate, saying they are only implementing the Financial Act recently passed by the parliament.

“Our pound lost value against the U.S. dollar which now costs over SSP 60,000 in the market. For us, we are not the people responsible for the increment of the fees as a department, but we are implementers of the order,” he said. “The Financial Act was made by the parliament and they said the price of one booklet (Passport) is USD 100 like before.”

Gen. Marol advised those with no cross-border travel plans not to apply for passports as it would amount to a waste of their money.

He also revealed that the lifespan of the South Sudanese passport will now expire after ten years as opposed to the current five-year lifespan.

“I have been given a green light by the leadership of the country so last week I directed the director of ICT to adjust the system from 5 years to 10 years,” he said. “They are working on it now and as soon as the system is ready, I will go back to the interior ministry and inform them so that they give us an okay and we start the printing.”

Source: Radio Tamazuj