Cover Story

Passport seekers stranded over machine breakdown

John Akot Maluth Director General Department of Nationality, Passport and Immigration speaking to the press yesterday [photo by Woja Emmanuel]:

By Woja Emmanuel Wani

Many South Sudanese citizens who were seeking for passport and nationality certificates have for three weeks been stranded due to machine breakdown.

Yesterday a group of youth who had gone to collect their documents were disappointed and crowded the offices of the Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Immigration after finding out that the machines were not functional.

The disappointed citizens said that the time specified by the immigration officials for them to collect their certificates had passed and they have not been informed of any development.

A man who preferred to be identified as Mr. Achuil told Juba Monitor that it had taken him two weeks since he was told to collect his nationality card from the Directorate.

“I traveled from Rumbek to get my nationality since I was enrolled on the 7th June and was promised to come and collect my certificate after one week, but up to now they keep telling me to come tomorrow and next tomorrow. I am tired of moving,” Achuil told Juba Monitor in an interview yesterday.

He added that the government should ensure swift process of issuing the documents because many of them who journeyed from far deserved to get passports and the nationality certificates they came for.

Gabriel Joseph Ramba, another stranded man stressed that some of them came from far areas just to process their nationality documents and do not have homes to stay in Juba.

“Some of us are staying with friends and others sleep in hotels which are expensive. So we are requesting the officials to look into this seriously because our money may finish,” Ramba appealed.

The Director-General of Nationality, Passport and Immigration Mr. John Akot Maluth said that the processing machine had some technical problems which could not be fixed in time since the spare parts were to be brought from Germany.

“The machine has broken down and indeed it has taken three weeks now but registration and enrollment has not stopped. It is a technical error and we will solve it,” Maluth said.

Last week an official from the Directorate of National, Passport and Immigration told Juba Monitor that the machine had stopped operating because the directorate had not paid the company it contracted to process the nationality documents.

“It is not the issue of money. It is the issue of the technical error which is due to be repaired and we are in contact with our partners in Muhlbauer and the matter will be solved,” Maluth refuted.

Maluth declined to reveal to the media what exactly got spoiled in the system. He insisted that it was a technical error an ordinary person including him could not know.

Maluth added that the Directorate and the Ministry of Interior were working in close collaboration to fix the error in less than two weeks.

Late November last year a similar issue occurred when the national passports and immigration office stopped giving out passports due to technical problems.

The then-Deputy Finance Minister Mou Ambrose Thiik told reporters that the passport and national identification server had been blocked by its host, German company Muhlbauer, after the government failed to pay an annual software license fee of around USD500,000.

 

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