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Frustration as Scores Pursue National IDs to Beat UCC Deadline

As the seven day ultimatum issued by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) for all simcards to have been verified draws closer, check scores of people have reacted with frustration to the way in which the exercise to replace and verify National Identity cards is being conducted.

Those whose national identity card details will not have been verified by telecom service providers by this Thursday will have their sim cards blocked.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people flocked the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) headquarters in Kololo to secure their IDs but were agitated by what they called a lengthy, disorganized and inconveniencing process.

They blamed NIRA for not availing adequate information to the public about the details of the exercise.

ChimpReports discovered that upon reaching Kololo, majority of the people were ignorant of the steps to be followed to get the required assistance, let alone the services that were being offered at the centre.

There was no signage to guide the individuals on which specific stations they would get service. Some had sat, waiting for as long as 7 hours to get to complete the exercise.

William Sentabade, a resident of Kawempe who is diabetic sits waiting for the long queue
William Sentabade, a resident of Kawempe who is diabetic sits waiting for the long queue

William Sentabade, 64 a resident of Kawempe is both diabetic and hypertensive and could be seen taking his medication while waiting in the pavilion. He was registered for the National Identity card in 2014 but has never received it.

“With diabetes and hypertension, you can never know when the next pain will strike yet I hear our phones will be switched off. I can’t live without my phone because I live by myself and my phone is my only way of calling for medical help,” Sentabadde told ChimpReports.

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He said he registered for the second time in December 2016 but authorities in Wakiso kept telling him his identity card wasn’t ready, so he decided to go to Kololo to confirm.

“As you can see my situation, I can’t afford to stand in the queue. There’s nobody here to assist elderly people like me. It’s disturbing.”

“I have been to Wakiso six times in pursuit of my card. Government needs to make such processes faster especially for the elderly. We have many several things we need to process that require an ID,” he adds.

Another discontented person, Joseph Byamukama, a student told ChimpReports that he lost his ID and was in Kololo to get a replacement.

“I came at about 7:30 am made payments and joined the queue for some one and a half hours. What I don’t understand is – why must we refill all the information that we provided at registration? Verification should only require a photo or finger prints.”

Byamukama said the process of ID replacement was more hectic than the initial registration itself.

Masses wait at one of the service stations in Kololo
Masses wait at one of the service stations in Kololo

Some suggested that NIRA ought to have provided more help desks to cut on the waiting time especially for the working category who left their work to process their details.

“I personally think the process is disorganized. The pathway from the time you enter and when you leave is not clear. I wish there was a public address with a clear signage to follow,” someone who preferred anonymity told ChimpReports. He had been waiting for seven hours.

He added; “then also, the people doing the registration are also disorganized. It’s either they are overwhelmed by the numbers that their attitude is very negative or they are disinterested. There’s a lot to fix.”

Another lady (who didnt want her name disclosed) made a similar comment saying; “the people here are barking at us in a harsh tone. We pay taxes for them to offer these services.”

However, when contacted by ChimpReports, Micheal Muganga the Public Relations Assistant for National Identification and Registration Authority blamed the ‘confusion’ on the sudden panic following UCC’s directive. He also clarified that the centre in Kololo is only handling ID replacement and changing of particulars.

“For us, it would have been business as usual but the commotion and stampede is about the registration of simcards which requires verification of ID number,” Muganga told ChimpReports.

Micheal Muganga the Public Relations Assistant for National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) speaks to journalists on Tuesday
Micheal Muganga the Public Relations Assistant for National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) speaks to journalists on Tuesday

NIRA has so far registered more than 16.7 million people since the ID project started and issued more than 14.7 million ID cards.

“But we’ve been stuck with more than 1.5 million cards that are uncollected by the owners. These are the people running around to see where their cards are,” he added.

“They however should go to the districts where they registered from. Matters to do with registration and issuance of IDs is done at our district offices and the 5 Divisions of Kampala.”

For those that have never registered for their IDs, he said it will take a month upon registration to get their cards.

He disregarded the claims that the NIRA staff are using rude communication. “It’s a wrong perception. Being harsh is not our policy, our mandate requires us to serve people”.

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