Agents of telecom companies in Luweero town are on the spot for charging phone users to validate their simcards. UCC set April 20th as the deadline for simcard validation and registration using the National Identification number.
However, the exercise has been extended for a month. Although both UCC and Telecom companies are sending text messages asking simcard holders to dial *197# to validate their simcards using their National Identification numbers, some people in Luweero are unable to do so, which has forced them to turn to telecom agents.
On Wednesday, hundreds of phone users rushed to telecom agents to validate or register their simcards so as not to be disconnected. However, some of the agents charged the phone users between Shillings 2000-5000 to validate or register their simcards despite the fact that the exercise is entirely free of charge.
Swamadu Saffi, a resident of Bwaziba LC 1 village in Luweero Sub County, says he paid Shillings 4000 to facilitate the registration of his Airtel and MTN simcard although he wasn’t issued a receipt. According to Saffi, he paid the money for fear of being disconnected when the UCC deadline expires.
Abdul Tagabirwa, a resident of Misanje village in Kikyusa Sub county says he paid Shillings 7000 to agents to register his two lines and photocopy his National Identity card. He asks UCC to take action against Telecom companies for cheating them.
Denis Mugisha, a sales agent at MTN Uganda, Luweero Town Service Point explains that simcard registration or validation is for free of charge.
He says the agents get a commission of Shillings 1200 for each registered simcard.
A sales agent at Luweero Airtel service point who told URN on condition of anonymity that they get a commission of Shillings 1000 for each registered simcard at the end of each month, but says this is their chance to double their earnings.
Atleast 200 clients had been registered by midday at both the Airtel and MTN Service Points in Luweero town. Isaac Kalembe, the Spokesperson Uganda Communications Commission has asked the affected people to report to Police all agents asking them for money to validate their simcards. According to Kalembe, those soliciting for money to validate simcards are doing it illegally, saying the exercise is free of charge.
There are long queues at Luweero District Electoral Commission Offices, which also houses the offices of the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) as hundreds pick their national identity cards validate their simcards to avoid disconnection.
At least 90 people had picked their National IDs by midday on Wednesday when our reporters visited the offices. Mohammed Mpiima, the Luweero District Information Technology Officer, says there are more than 16,000 national identity cards at the office. He says they are doing everything possible to distribute the National Identity cards.
He says they are referring those who need to replace their National IDs to the NIRA office in Kampala.