Junior officers need to respect order from above
It is over two weeks since the South Sudan government through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation lifted visa restrictions for Uganda nationals with valid travel documents.
This decision followed the initiative taken by the Uganda government to scrap visa requirements for travelers for the South Sudanese entering its territory.
While announcing the free visa on October 2, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation had described the move as a significant booster to the already existing stronger bilateral relations between the two countries.
All entry and exit points including missions and embassies abroad were expected to comply with the directive started from October 4. To enforce it, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs directed the Ministry of Interior through its Directorate of Nationality Passports and Immigration to implement the waiver on visa entry requirements for Ugandan citizens holding valid passports with effect from Monday, October 4, 2021.
However, this directive from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems it was followed as some Ugandan nationals are still complaining of being charged at the border despite having valid travel documents, and there is a report that there are some immigration officers who have been blocking Uganda nationals from crossing to the country.
The officials are claiming that they did not get official communication from the authorities on visa waivers between the two countries. One of the travelers said he was arrested and made to pay an extra SSP 13,000 despite having a legal travel document.
This is so serious and so how junior officers have always been so adamant about taking orders from the above. In fact, other things often take place without the notice of the higher authorities. This implies three things: there is a high level of dishonesty among the officers, some are not informed about the laws and there is a lack of supervision or they have different lines of assignments.
These have been the cause of several roadblocks along with the highway because some checkpoints are not designated by the government. Those many roadblocks were created by senior individuals working in the government and those officers are often deployed by them. Therefore, such officers rarely take directives from the overall authorities.
So, after lifting the visa restriction between Uganda and South Sudan, the authorities concerned should have gone down the border point to educate the immigration officers on the latest development. It seems, this simple exercise was not done and that makes some officers act like they knew nothing completely about the visa waiver. This sends bad signals to the neighbours portraying South Sudan as a lawless country. The region will think that in South Sudan there is always parallel administration that sometimes makes communication very difficult.
Those, junior officers still charging for the visa must be told that they are working under one administration and the structure command. So, whoever fails to comply must be punished.