KAMPALA – Parliament has expressed concern over continued delays surrounding the replacement of national identity cards.
During plenary chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oualanyah on Wednesday, MPs wondered why replacement of IDs can only be done at the national centre in Kololo, Kampala.
“The National ID has gained prominence among many Ugandans to the extent that you cannot transact any business without it,” said Aruu South MP Samuel Odonga Otto.
“However, people suffer a lot to replace their cards, which involves a lot of transport costs; they have to rent around Kampala as they wait but they can’t get the cards even after three months,” he added.
The MP argued that even legislators cannot get the IDs replaced in the stipulated timeframe.
“If an MP cannot have the national ID, what about an ordinary person who sometimes has never come to Kampala?” Mr Otto asked.
He asked Parliament to compel the minister for Internal Affairs to explain the procedure for replacing a national ID and the purpose for which regional centres were established if they cannot replace the cards.
He further questioned the relevance of the Shs50,000 replacement fee charged by the government and the expiry dates.
“You will also have to explain to us why the national ID expires; I need to know why I would expire,” Mr Otto said.
Mr Obiga Kania, the minister of State for Internal Affairs, told Parliament that they are aware of the problems faced by the National Identification Regulatory Authority (NIRA).
“We do acknowledge the problem people are going through, not only with replacing but also getting an ID,” he said.
The Shs50,000 figure for replacement, Mr Kania said, was passed by Parliament as a measure to protect the ID from duplicity by suspicious individuals.
He dispelled fears that the national ID expires.
“In the preliminary, I can state that your citizenship does not expire; that is why you have a National Identification Number (NIN). It means that it remains yours until you die,” said the minister.
The reason as to why there is 10-year period, the minister said, is because the data changes over time, especially for learners (students).
The minister is next Tuesday expected to explain why regional centres have no capacity to handle the replacement of national identity cards and measures to fix the anomaly.