Senior immigration official and a highly placed heavy weight of the Jammeh inner circle have confirmed the new biometric agreement between Gambia Immigration Department and Africard Company, a Lebanese business company in the Gambia.
The new passport is priced at D3500 Gambian dalasi equivalent to US $100 as opposed to the previous cost of D1000 Gambian dalasi and will last for five year period. “This is absolute madness”, one of the officials lamented as anger and frustration marred his face. “Can you believe it? 250% increment on the previous price of a passport that only last for five years!” he further asked.
It would be recalled that in 2013 the dodgy Jammeh government hinted that Gambia will go in for a new biometric passport to curb the forgery and other boring intermittent changes since it damages quickly due to its poor quality. However, what the Jammeh regime failed to inform Gambians was their passports would now be produced and issued by foreigners whose credibility remains questionable. “The new deal will commence in April 2014 and their office is already located in Banjul with new modern technology equipment”, the immigration official informed Kibaaro.
“The passport’s critical information is both printed on the data page of the passport and stored in the chip. Public Key Infrastructure is used to authenticate the data stored electronically in the passport chip making it expensive and difficult to forge when all security mechanisms are fully and correctly implemented,” added a Jammeh trustee.
“The new initiative will fully discourage forgery of documents in the country. The chip will make it very hard and expensive for the criminals to tamper it any more. We encountered series of problems and forgeries not only in passport but also National Identity card too. So both these two documents will now be biometric. The National ID and Driving License have been in the biometric system for two years now and it have drastically reduced the forgery, this is why the government opted for going in for biometric passport” chipped in a senior Police Officer.
Despite the assurance from the Police Force that the new biometric will curb forgery of the document, they fall short in confirming that the new passport will not end up in the wrong hands. Many Gambians when contacted with the issue expressed fear and dissatisfaction of their passports managed by foreigners without any Gambian immigration official supervision. Others believe it is just a matter of time before the new passport would be sold in the streets of Banjul.