By Sania Babirye
City lawyer Michael Aboneka has filed an application in the high court in Kampala seeking an interim order blocking the issuance of electronic passports pending disposal of his main case.
In his main application, Aboneka is challenging the process of phasing out of current passports by 2021 on grounds that the process because it is not backed by any law currently.
Through his lawyer Gawaya Tegulle , Aboneka has informed deputy Court Register Sarah Langa that his main will be over taken by events and rendered useless if government is not blocked from the ongoing process of issuance and recalling current passports which is in its advanced stage.
However, State Attorney Allan Mukama has asked court to dismiss the interim order application on grounds its over taken by events as the ministry of internal affairs has already started issuing out the new electronic passports.
Mukama has also dismissed Submissions from Twgulka that the process is not backed by law saying that the process of issuing the electronic east African passport is back by the decision of the East African Community council and a recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Authority.
He has also added that the exercise of acquiring new passports is voluntary and it is done in three phases and will end by 2021.
Mukama has also explained to court that its only Uganda which is still behind since other other East African countries including Burundi and Kenya have already complied with the process.
The deputy registrar has now set the 25th of this month to deliver her ruling.
Aboneka together with Center for Constitutional Governance petitioned High Court challenging the move by government to phase out the current passports by the end of 2021 in preparation for the issuance of the electronic East African Community passports.
In the complaint, they say the period given to Ugandans to switch to the international EAC electronic passports is insufficient and exclusionary to both Ugandans living within and abroad which is contrary to the principles of equity, accountability, transparency, rule of law ,good governance and democracy.
They also state that charge levied on the intended e passports is too excessive and exploitative .
The concerned citizens explain that for an ordinary Ugandan to acquire an electronic passports he has to pay 250,000 shillings which is 67 percent increase from the current cost of 150,000 shillings.
They consequently say Ugandan charge for e- EAC passports is the highest in the region compared to Kenya and Tanzania who are charging Ksh 4.550 and Tsh50000 respectively.
The main case is set for hearing which on the 19th of March 2019 before High court Justice Musa Sekaana.