There was great concern expressed by civil society and citizens at this decision of Parliament.
According to the then Minister of Internal Affairs, in August 2017, Palo Conteh, the price, from the original contract, was reduced from $120 USD to $100 USD and Clause 5 was made clearer by stating “as the price for the e-passport is $100 USD or the equivalent in Leones, which could be reviewed periodically based on the inflation rate in the country.”
However, according to the National Coordinator for Civil Society Coalition on Service Delivery, William Sao Lamin, Net Page has been engaging Parliament and other stakeholders on a price increase and additional security features.
Some civil society groups have called for the termination of the contract with Net Page because they say the security features are not up to international standards.
According to Hannah Grace Gillen Munnah, a civil society activist, she was detained for over 45 minutes in Mauritania because of what the airport officials referred to as a “fake passport” in her possession. She said, “I submitted my passport and… was informed that my passport is fake.”
She said she had to submit supporting documents to prove her identity and nationality before being released.
However, Arthur Kallon of Net Page maintained that all the passports produced, since they took over, contain security seals that are machine readable and not visible by the naked eye. “We are not responsible to determine who should or should not hold a passport,” he said, stating, “We are only serving as an intermediary between De La Rue and the Government of Sierra Leone through the Immigration department.
He said, “All the security information are with the Immigration Department” and disclosed that Net Page is currently running at a loss as they are paying in USD to De La Rue and all the items they use are procured in US dollars.
According to Kallon, as per the original law, the actual cost of the passport in Leones should be equivalent to the current $100 rate of Le902,000, “but we are still receiving the Le750,000 that was agreed and amended in Parliament a year ago.
He said they are currently negotiating with the government and Immigration Department to resolve the issue.