Members of Parliament have raised concerns over the rising costs of identification and travel documents namely National Identity Card (ID), Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) ID, and ECOWAS passport. The MPs said the Minister of Internal Affairs, David Panda Noah should negotiate a reduction of the costs with all parties involved in the agreement.

The Minister was in parliament to present an agreement for the production and issuance of securitized multi-purpose national identity cards for citizens and non-citizens resident in Sierra Leone. MP Abdul Karim Kamara said the 75,000 Leones cost for the National ID card was too expensive, especially for people in rural areas.

He explained that the ID card is very important and that even children approaching Junior Secondary School would need it in order to ascertain their age and serve as background records that will be attached to their National Identification Card (NIN). He added that the price should be reduced to a level that ll can afford.

Speaking on the positives, Kamara commended the minister and noted that with the new ID card, people that are in the habit of impersonating others will be caught and that sexual offences and other justice-related issues will be curtailed.

He added that this will ease the workload of the immigration officers and that they will find it easy to access certain information for verification and reduces the risk of other nationals accessing the country’s passport.

APC opposition Leader Chernor M. Bah whilst speaking on the figures explained that according to the agreement, the ECOWAS ID will cost fifteen dollars per year and seventy-five dollars for five years. He, therefore, advised that the minister either negotiates the price or adds the number of years.

Bah also noted that the ECOWAS passport is 100 dollars and lasts for five years, a situation that he said would rather encourage people to go for the passport than the ID card.

He asked that the minister meets with parties concerned to made sure that the figures are reduced to meet Sierra Leoneans’ earning power.

He spoke on the relevance o the ECOWAS ID card and explained that some of their colleagues in different countries such as Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, and Niger normally use theirs to travel, which saves their passports and grants them entries in different ECOWAS countries.

According to Politico, the Acting Leader of Government Business Bashiru Silikie agreed with the opposition leader in relation to the ECOWAS ID but noted that the national ID card is relatively cheaper compared to other IDs in the Sub-region. He compared Sierra Leone to countries like Nigeria, Ghana, etc. that charge higher fees.

He expressed appreciation for the development, noting that Sierra Leoneans have been longing for an identity card.

In an interview with journalists, the minister stated that they will try to negotiate the price but reminded them that Sierra Leone is “the cheapest in the sub-region”.

He explained that the company responsible for handling the production of the ID cards will be in charge of everything such as importing equipment, providing the Cards, etc. adding that the agreement is a win-win situation.

Explaining the features of the card, Panda Noah said the card is a securitized one and it would be difficult to forge, as it has a chip that contains digital information of the owner. Speaking on the uniqueness of the card, Noah explained that the card has a number that is unique to only one person and which could be used to be able to access other documents such as passport, driving license, bank accounts, and education purposes amongst others.

He added that the cards’ duration will be five years.