Citizens decry increased passport fees and demand reduction

A section of Juba City residents sounded out by Radio Tamazuj have decried the increment of passport fees and appealed to the government to revise the amount downwards.

A section of Juba City residents sounded out by Radio Tamazuj have decried the increment of passport fees and appealed to the government to revise the amount downwards.

Last Tuesday ,the Directorate for Civil Registry, Nationality, passport and Immigration announced an increment in the fee for acquiring an ordinary passport from SSP 4,500 to 66,380.

“This letter serves to inform that the new financial act 2022/2023 increment charges are going to be implemented effective tomorrow, November 30th as directed by Lt. General Atem Marol Biar, Director-General of Civil Registry, Passports, Nationality and Immigration,” said Director of Passports Gen. Chier Mayar at a press conference.

He also disclosed that the cost of naturalization by marriage now costs SSP 232,330 and naturalization by residence certificate costs SSP 497,850.

Mayar said a nationality certificate now costs SSP 3,319, an identity certificate SSP 3,319, and replacing a lost nationality identity certificate shot up to SSP 6,638 while a business passport now costs SSP 165,950 and a Diplomatic Passport is now SSP 132,750.

Some Juba residents however say the new fees for an ordinary passport are too exorbitant. Kiki Jennifer Samuel, a resident of Nyakuron, appealed to the government to reduce the fees.

“The issue of increment of fees for the services of the immigration is going to affect the majority of people, especially those who have no jobs. Life is hard,” she says. “I urge the government to listen to our plea and reconsider reverting to the earlier fees because there are mothers who are struggling and some are even single mothers. There is also a high rate of unemployment currently. So, I disagree with the SSP 66,000 fee for an ordinary passport and it should be SSP 5,000 or even 10,000 which people can afford.”

Another Juba resident, John Agok, said the new fees are unfortunate and will affect the movement of people.

“This move by the immigration department is unfortunate because I do not think this is happening in other countries in the East African region,” he says. “We are shocked by that move because it is quite expensive and it will make the movement of some people very hard. The immigration department has to revise the fees otherwise nobody will apply for the documents.”

“It is as if we are not an independent country because what makes you enjoy sovereignty are the things like having access to passport and nationality,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Tuna Fraiser, says the decision will affect her children studying in neighboring Kenya and Uganda.

“Indeed the increase of the passport and nationality certificate fees is very worrying and was done without prior information to the citizens and this affects us,” she says. “The fee hike will affect our children studying outside the country. If I have two children studying in both Kampala and Nairobi, how will I afford USD 200 for their passports? I do not have it.”

Another Juba resident, Wek Atak, faults the immigration directorate for not consulting the public before the fees hike.

“I disagree with the move because sometimes the government does things without consulting citizens,” he says. “There is no reason why they should increase the fees because this will affect the citizens. It will affect me so much because where will I get the SSP 66,000 for a passport?”