October 1, 2022

By Ragan Conteh
The Civil Society Consortium on Human Rights and Good Governance in Sierra Leone has told the media at a press conference organized at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists headquarters that they frown at the proposed increment of the Sierra Leone Passport fees to one million Leones.
Speaking at the press conference, the lead campaigner of the consortium, Ibrahim Sorie Dumbuya, stated that Civil Society Consortium on Human Rights and Good Governance in Sierra Leone has been gauging the views of Sierra Leoneans both at home and abroad on the proposed planned imposition of an increase in the fess for obtaining a passport from seven hundred and fifty thousand Leones to one million Leones as recently announced by the Chief Immigration Officer.
According to Ibrahim Sorie Dumbuya, one thing that clearly came out from their engagement with citizens is that all of them, from government officials to middle-level public servants to ordinary men on the streets, are opposed to this new tariff and generally view it as a way of undermining the government’s agenda towards development.
He continued that this current passport contract was used by the SLPP-led government as one of its campaign tools to unseat the then APC Government.
Mr. Dumbuya stated that as a Consortium working in the best interest of democracy of their dear nation, they have gone further to investigate the real causes for the increase in the fees and found out that it is as a result of a flawed and unpatriotic contract that was entered into by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
He informed that they were expecting an urgent cancellation of the Netpage/ De La Rue Passport contract since the inception of the new direction, adding that at the moment government is receiving nothing from the proceeds of the passport as recently mentioned by the Chief Immigration Officer.
He continued that their findings have not only showed weakness of mechanisms used in the passport chip but also that the certificates are not compliant to ICAO standards which, he said, is a complete breach of contract and it also gives the government the authority to cancel or allow other company to operate.
The Consortium however want a company to offer better ICAO compliant passport and to decentralize the process to the provinces and Sierra Leonean embassies in the diaspora, passport duration with a span for ten years over the current five years, build an immigration department for the Government of Sierra Leone free of charge, passport price be $60 equivalent to Le 600,000, increase the pages from 32 to 48 pages, provide diplomatic and service passports on free basis as an entitlement to officials and that government should receive a better percentage.
He however called on President Bio to equivocally as father of the nation intervene and cancel or allow other company to provide a better offer to aid government’s commitment to the citizenry.
Edward Marah, a member of the consortium, disclosed that the country’s Biometric passport is almost very expensive when looking at other countries, adding that passport is not a privilege but it is a right to citizens.
He also reiterated the fact that people should not travel from Kailahun and other parts of the country to acquire passport in Freetown informing that the process of passport should be decentralized in all major districts or regions.
He continued that as citizens they don’t want the country’s passport to be in the hands of foreigners, adding that the current passports do not match with international standards.
David Hindolo Conteh, National Coordinator, also spoke on how the country’s passport is substandard and frowned at the proposed increment which, he said, is a way to deprive Sierra Leoneans from owning national passport.
The Consortium however gives the government, especially the Immigration Department, 21 day’s ultimatum to reverse their decision or seek redress from a competent court of law to have the decision overturned.