KAMPALA – Members of Parliament have expressed dissatisfaction with the long and tedious process of acquisition of new and replacement of national identity cards by the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), which they say has disenfranchised many Ugandans.
Members debating a statement by the Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Hon. Obiga Kania, during a plenary sitting on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, said many elderly persons had missed out on benefitting from the senior citizens’ grant (SAGE) over lack of national IDs.
“When we were doing registration in 2014/2015 in Amudat district, many elderly people failed to get the national IDs and they failed to access SAGE and up to now we have elderly who are not getting the grant because the machines failed to capture their fingerprints,” said Hon. Nauwat Rosemary.
In his statement, Minister Kania acknowledged that several people had failed to receive their cards in the three-month period given by NIRA. He said that a big number of persons that received national IDs during the mass registration exercise in 2014/2015 did not complete the issuance process and did not provide their biometrics.
“In case such a card is lost the applicant must first complete the issuance process in the district where they originally registered before they can proceed to replace the lost card,” he said adding that “The module for replacement of national IDs was only completed in June 2019 to enable district offices handle the replacement processes and the process of decentralising the service commenced in August 2019.”
He, however, said that NIRA has come up with measures to improve the turnaround time adding that district offices are now in a position to offer some national ID card replacement services since the registration kits have been enabled with the replacement module.
Hon. Hellen Asamo (NRM, PWD Eastern) suggested that the registration process ought to have provisions for undocumented people like street children, and PWDs who cannot provide fingerprints, to enable them to be included in the database and eventually get IDs.
Hon. Olive Koyekyenga (Ind., Buhweju district) said that NIRA offices at the district level were not operating effectively enough to enable residents acquire national IDs.
“The Minister talked of decentralization of the system in 27 districts and division offices, but these are not working because they have no facilities. The birth certificates they offer are not accepted in schools because they are just pieces of paper,” she said.
MPs, however, raised concerns on the type of technology used by NIRA in the registration process, which they say is obsolete and not efficient to cater for all Ugandans in a short period of time.
“There is nothing like a problem of management in NIRA, but the problem is the technology and the system they are using,” said Hon. Michael Mawanda (FDC, Igara County East).
Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, directed the Committee on ICT to interact with National Information Technology Authority, Uganda over their preparedness to handle harmonization of information usage.