AT least 1,470 illegal immigrants have been nabbed by the Immigration Department in Kagera Region between January – June 30, this year, the Kagera Regional Immigration Officer, Mr Abdallah Towo has said.
Mr Towo told reporters during a press conference that the aliens included 994 Burundians, 223 Ugandans, 193 Rwandese, 19 Ethiopians, 39 from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and two Kenyans.
He elaborated that out of the 1,300 who were deported to their countries of origin, 59 were arraigned adding that about 90 foreigners who were serving jail sentences had completed their sentences and hence deported.
According to Mr Towo, about 5,787 Burundians from Mtendeli, Nduta and Nyarugusu Refugees’ Camp in Kigoma Region and a few others from Rumasi Transit Camp, in Ngara District returned home voluntarily.
He noted that about 491,513 residents had been registered to get national identity cards out of the expected 1,200,000. He also revealed that to-date, about 64 e-passports had been issued after the launch kicked off here on June 8, this year.
Tanzania rolled out the new electronic East African Community passport in January, this year, to replace the existing national documents, set to be phased out by January 2020.
The launch was witnessed by President John Magufuli who said the e-passport would bring lasting solutions to a number of challenges associated with immigration services in the country.
‘‘I’m pleased with the changes. This is a job well done by the Immigration Department. You have my support,” said Dr Magufuli.
The use of new technology in issuing passports is expected to seal all gaps that have been used by culprits to obtain illegal passports.
Tanzania becomes the second East African Community (EAC) member country to roll out e-passports after Kenya which launched the documents in September, last year, 17 years after discussions to develop the Community document began.
The 35th EAC Council of Ministers meeting in last April directed member states to start issuing the regional e-passport by January 2018. Tanzanians will continue using the old passports until 2020, when they will be totally phased out.
The new technology to print the e-passport in Tanzania was installed by US-based HID Company with support from the government of Ireland and cost about $58 million.
The new travel document will cost 67.5 US dollar (150,000/-) and will be valid for 10 years.
The Commissioner for Passports and Citizenship under the Immigration department, Mr Gerald Kihinga noted that the introducing of e-passports would be accompanied by modernisation of services at the department to conform to the fast changing technology.
The e-passport is embedded with a machine readable computer chip which contains the holder’s biometric information on a tamper-proof page, and has been touted as a major step in curbing fraud and easing clearance at international airports where e-readers are installed.
‘It will thus not be easy to make a copy of it. It will remain genuine and will also last long and contain much more pages than the previous ones.
It will help the department end misuse or fraud associated with the manual passport issuance system,” he said.
According to Mr Kihinga, to-date about 17,289 Ordinary passports, 56 Service passports, 248 Diplomatic passports and 02 Special Diplomatic passports have been issued.
Five regions have already launched the e-passports including Dodoma, Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Kagera.