HOME Affairs Minister Kangi Lugola has maintained that the use of analogue travelling documents for Tanzanians wishing to travel outside the country will not be extended beyond the set deadline on January 31, this year.
This comes in the wake of revelations by the Immigration Department showing that only 200,000 out of about 900,000 holders of the old passports have updated their documents and acquired electronic passports.
"I call upon all Tanzanians to ensure that they first acquire national identification cards and thereafter update their old passports to electronic ones," Mr Lugola urged in a televised interview on state-owned Tanzania Broadcasting Services (TBC) on Wednesday evening.
The minister was clear cut that the old documents will not be valid after January 31, this year.
However, Tanzanians, both within and those outside the country, can still continue to update their passports since the exercise will be continuous.
"Tanzanians should be very happy that President John Magufuli decided to extend biometric registration of SIM cards to enable more people to either acquire national IDs or details of the cards. "There will be no extension for the use of old passports after the deadline since the government has given people additional time to acquire the national IDs or the registration details," Mr Lugola stressed.
The minister explained further that the National Identification Authority (NIDA) had boosted its workforce to be able to register more Tanzanians within a short period of time. On December 27, this year, President Magufuli announced an extension of the deadline for biometric registration of SIM cards by 20 days, the original deadline having been December 31.
Dr Magufuli announced the extension shortly after he registered his SIM card while in his home village in Chato District, Geita Region, stating that he granted more days to allow those who failed due to various circumstances.
The Head of State warned however that there will be no further extension after January 20, 2020, and urged the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) to lock out all subscribers who fell short of observing the requirement.
Speaking in a recent interview with this paper, the Commissioner General of the Immigration Department, Dr Anna Makakala, said the number of Tanzanians applying for electronic passports had increased to an average of 1,200 applications from between 300 and 400 per day.
"Many people are turning up applying for the new electronic passports since the old ones are no longer eligible for application of visas. Tanzanians with the old passports can only use them to travel from abroad to Tanzania during the remaining days. "On the contrary, they cannot use the documents to apply for visa to travel outside the country," Dr Makakala explained.
Dr Makakala noted on the other hand that the department had installed equipment for issuance of electronic passports at all Tanzanian embassies abroad since August, last year.
The commissioner general stated further that the Tanzanian electronic passports had won accolades globally for its security features, meaning that their holders can travel hassle free unlike in the past when using the old travel documents.
President Magufuli was the first Tanzanian to be issued with the electronic passport on January 31, 2018 when he graced the launching of the new East African Community (EAC)'s e-passport at the Immigration Department headquarters in Dar es Salaam.
The travel document is grouped in three categories, namely diplomatic, service and ordinary passports and is valid for 10 years.