By Amin Kef (Ranger)
It has become evident that since the National Civil Registration Authority of Sierra Leone (NCRA), commenced the issuance of Biometric National ID Cards nationwide, there has been a lukewarm response from the citizenry from turning up at designated centres to secure their cards at a minimal fee. A key sector of the populace that has shown less enthusiasm in securing their Biometric National ID Cards is the public sector employees, who disappointedly, have failed to be at the vanguard to secure such an important document.
Against such a lamentable backdrop, there is a school of thought that is suggesting that the Government of Sierra Leone, especially the Legislative arm, should follow in the recent footstep of the Government of Ghana which recently enacted that, “Beginning February 2024, all public sector workers without Ghana ID Card numbers will have their salaries frozen…” It was further stated that such is part of measures to help cut out ghost names on the Government’s payroll.
It was also suggested that an amicable arrangement could be made with all public sector workers across the country to have part of their salaries deducted for the payment of issuance of Biometric National ID Cards to all public sector workers across the country.
There is no way that it could be swept under the carpet that owning the National Biometric ID Card could be downplayed as it is a requirement which every citizen must fulfill. Owning one shows one’s identity as a citizen of Sierra Leone thereby easily dispelling doubts in questionable times.
Besides, securing the National Biometric ID Card will save holders from the hassle and embarrassment of opening bank accounts, withdrawing monies from bank accounts and even at Foreign Bureaus, as it is an acceptable document in achieving or accessing those services.
Against such a backdrop, the National Civil Registration Authority of Sierra Leone (NCRA), is urging all citizens and residents in the country to secure their Biometric National ID cards which were introduced early last year.
NCRA reiterates that the campaign for the securing of the ID Cards is intended to enhancing holders’ personal security and as well enable them to easily have access to Government and private sector services.
According to the NCRA, all citizens who have attained the age of 12 are eligible to secure Biometric ID Cards and can visit any of its nearest branches in various districts for an application. Emphasizing the importance of citizens acting as patriots in securing the ID Cards, NCRA hopes to see an increase in the number of registrants in the course of 2024.
The ID-issuing authority says the cards will not only streamline the way individuals access public services, they will also contribute to the security architecture which the West African country is trying to build.
It must be noted that the card contains an embedded chip which carries the biometric information of the holder, to enable easy ID authentication. It also has an 11-digit National Identification Number (NIN) which acts as a unique identifier linked to the personal details of the card holder in the national population registry. Officials say the NIN will henceforth be a requirement for students of the primary education sector preparing to take public examinations.
As part of the use cases, the NCRA has also directed that from this year, the biometric ID card will be required at all of the country’s checkpoints for those travelling around the country.
Significantly, NCRA’s transformative initiative aligns with the Government’s commitment to fostering a safer, more efficient and accessible environment for all citizens.
Designated centers and six specific offices have also been opened throughout the country, and locations that are easily accessible, as part of efforts to facilitate the ID registration process. The centres are:
1. NCRA Headquarters: 2 Walpole Street, Freetown.
2. NCRA Office: 23B Off Kingharman Road, Freetown.
3. NCRA Office: Kennedy Street, Freetown.
4. NCRA Branch Office: 230 Lumley Road, Freetown (By the Round About).
5. NCRA Office: Waterloo along the Freetown High Way (Opposite the Police Station).
6. NCRA Offices: Regional Headquarter Towns of Bo, Kenema, Makeni, and Port Loko.
In a bid to enhance accessibility, the NCRA has introduced corporate services tailored for organizations and institutions. For comprehensive information on these corporate services, interested parties can contact the following numbers: +232-33-433-333 / +232-30-500-000 / +232-60-000 / +232-78-221-812 or via EMAIL: email@example.com.
Cognizance must be taken that it is a civil responsibility which citizens must fulfill.