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Sim cards crisis looms large

WITH only one day to go before tomorrow's deadline for biometric SIM cards registration, long queues coupled with much scrambling is evident, as many of the unregistered owners might not beat it.

However, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) figures of January 15 show that over 27.2 million SIM cards, the equivalent of 56 per cent have been registered biometrically.

The number of all SIM cards which have been registered in the country accounts for over 48.7 million, thus figures for non-biometric registered covers 21.4 million SIM cards, equivalent to 44 per cent.

TCRA Acting Public Relations Manager, Mr Semu Mwakyanjala who availed the above figures to the ‘Sunday News’ called upon the public to finalise the registration for individual and country’s development benefits.

Mr Mwakanjala revealed that 26,170,137 SIM cards (53.8 per cent) have been registered biometrically. It was recently revealed that the number of all SIM cards comprise 47 million in the country, accounting for 21.1 million people.

A spot survey conducted by the ‘Sunday News’ yesterday at some National Identification Authority (NIDA) offices across the country and telecom registration centres witnessed a large turn out and confrontations amongst people who had lined up for registration.

The turnout at NIDA Temeke in Dar es Salaam offices revealed the situation of those who had not yet acquired NIDA national identification numbers (NIN) for them to proceed with biometric registration.

Likewise, the situation at the Mwanza NIDA offices seemed to be alarming as people who had lined up on the long queues frequently pushed one another while throwing tantrums.

At Mlimani city shopping complex, five shops of TTCL, Vodacom, Tigo, Airtel and Halotel were also spotted with long queues of customers waiting for their SIM cards to be registered biometrically.

A customer who introduced herself as Nafsa Juma told ‘Daily News’ that scrambling to meet the deadline is among major reasons for them to go through the agony, coupled with network technicalities and a sense of nepotism.

“Some of the people who skip queues are being attended past those who have been waiting for a long time. I have spent hours here, the registration exercise gets frequently interrupted by jamming network due to high traffic, I don’t know what my fate will be,” said Nafsa.

On the other hand, phone subscribers can still recover their SIM card numbers after the expiry of the ongoing biometric registration exercise, but only if they register them.

According to a public notice issued by the Director General of Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) on Thursday to the ‘Daily News’, people whose SIM cards will be terminated from service on January 20, this year can proceed with intention of registration.

Such is intended for them to acquire their national identification number which can be used to recover their existing mobile phone numbers or obtain new ones.

“The exercise is continuous to all current SIM card owners who have not registered their chips biometrically,” stated part of the notice.

On the other hand, new subscribers will be in a position to register their SIM cards by using the National Identification Authority (NIDA) cards and be verified biometrically.

For diplomats and their respective institutions who have not completed the registration, they should continue with the application procedures given out to them, TCRA said.

Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Eng Isack Kamwelwe warned that there would be no further deadline extension while tough measures against rising cybercrimes will be taken.

“As the deadline for the registration looms, there has been a mushrooming incidence of cybercrime on these remaining days; let’s all be on watch,” he said.

In December last year, President John Magufuli extended the biometric SIM card registration deadline to the 20th of this month, stressing that beyond then, unregistered lines would be shut down.

Earlier, the government had set December 31, last year as the deadline for phone users to have biometrically registered their Sim cards.

President Magufuli decided to give additional time to those who failed to complete the process within the given time due to various reasons, mainly lack of national identification numbers or cards.

He cautioned that all Tanzanians should ensure they register their Sim cards biometrically because there would be no excuse after the deadline expires, thereby directing TCRA to switch off all unregistered lines thereafter.

A CONTRACTOR entrusted to construct a 1.2km-road ...

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Author: SUNDAY NEWS Reporters

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