Over 1000 paper applications were submitted to the Sierra Leone COVID-19 Emergency Operation Center (EOC) during a 72-hour lockdown in early April. When additional interdistrict travel restrictions were put in place, the manual process required additional manpower and time. The Government has now announced an indefinite extension on the lockdown and curfew to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has killed 4 Sierra Leoneans this week. 

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), and Niche Solutions created the Electronic Pass (E-PASS) Management System (http://www.epass.eoc.gov.sl) as part of an integrated ICT response to COVID-19. The electronic issuance of passes will now make it easier and faster for the EOC to process requests and authorize the movement of essential goods, and service providers during the COVID lockdown and curfew in a transparent and auditable process.  

“We are mobilizing tech resources from within our existing ecosystem to provide government and citizens with the tools they need to stop the spread of the pandemic while mitigating the impact on essential services,” said Michala Mackay, COO, and Director, DSTI. 

“The public should continue to practice social distancing, wash their hands regularly, and respect all government measures put in place to flatten the curve. In order to support the fight against COVID-19, the E-Pass would only be issued to individuals and organizations who offer essential services and functions that are necessary, during this pandemic.”

Essential services include goods and other supplies that Sierra Leoneans need to survive, such as medical supplies, food, public works (electricity, and water), telecommunications, and gasoline. Essential workers are the personnel needed to maintain essential services such as health care workers, security personnel, social and emergency relief. 

A consortium of public and private technology experts will continue to develop tools that would enhance and strengthen existing systems to support the government efforts in response to COVID-19. Niche Technologies is the lead private sector partner on the COVID-19 Lockdown and Curfew E-Pass. Niche’s Chief Executive Officer was a former Director of Planning and Strategy in Sierra Leone’s National Ebola Response Center. He brings his crisis response experience and technical expertise to the forefront.

Mahmoud Idriss, CEO, Niche Technologies in Sierra Leone

“One of the most notable differences  that I see this time around is that the ICT response has been swift and efficient. When we came in as non-state actors, everyone knew their expected deliverables and we helped put the wheel in motion,” said Mahmoud Idriss, CEO Niche Technologies.

“It is not uncommon for the Government to have many partners around the table trying to get the same thing done. The problem is how quickly you can get everyone to agree on what they’re supposed to do. The leadership at DSTI has been effective in removing the hurdles and the bottlenecks that could have slowed down the tech response.”

The E-Pass is but one of many tech solutions currently in the works.  A COVID-19 Mobile Self-Check and Update tool that was launched earlier this month has over 250,000 USSD responses since its launch.

All E-Pass applications will be processed within 12 hours of submission but within 6 hours for emergency requests. An SMS will be sent to confirm or reject an approval. Applicants would also be informed if applications require further review.  E-Passes can only be used by the individual or vehicle whose name and registration number appear on the pass. Security officials at inter-district and other checkpoints would carry out verifications using USSD and other mobile solutions- the mobile phones used are donated by the two leading telecommunication companies in the country.

DSTI will continue to engage with partners in the public and private sectors to deploy innovative solutions that will improve and enhance the Government of Sierra Leone’s COVID-19 response efforts.

To make inquiries call the COVID-19 Lockdown and Curfew E-Pass Toll Number +232-55-117117. For all health emergencies, please call the 117 National Emergency Helpline.

16 Comments
  • Dennis Taylor
    11:54 AM, April 2020

    Based on availability of test kits suggest that non essential commodities and workers applying for interdistrict pass be tested before approval of pass and that applicants pay for such tests.
    That will reduce application’s and stop the spread of the virus as in the Tonkolii case

  • Rev, Eli Pratt
    4:38 PM, April 2020

    The E-pass toll number for enquiries you gave out seems to have some problems and according to what I read, that a reply will be sent by SMS after applying for pass within 12hrs whether accepted or not, does not seem to be working..

  • Aiah Lot Jimmy
    4:54 PM, April 2020

    Traveling pass from to Tonkolili district

  • Dauda Tarawally
    5:00 PM, April 2020

    Thanks for this timely innovative intervention. Which I’m sure will help to mitigate any uncalled for users to trick their way out. Congratulations.
    I would also like to be getting updated on current situation of Covid19 always.

  • Kenneth Sesay
    5:18 PM, April 2020

    the system is very good but the question is how long it is going take to approve the request because we needs start givens farmers bonuses(free cash with no interest as an appreciation) so that they can benefits from this money during the luckdown.

  • Samuel James
    6:14 PM, April 2020

    How do you get your form after you have applied

  • Chernor Alie Jalloh
    12:51 AM, April 2020

    am very impressed this time around the way u guys tend to issue passes around

  • Mohaned K Fatorma
    5:00 AM, April 2020

    Thanks

    • Sahr Joseph Kaifineh
      9:18 AM, May 2020

      Fantastic innovation.

  • Mohaned K Fatorma
    5:04 AM, April 2020

    Thanks to the Government of Sierra Leone and the ministry of health for this pass

  • Gias ali
    4:45 PM, April 2020

    E paas

  • Rebecca Bakundu
    6:44 PM, April 2020

    I want to travel to buy fish in yakoi bonth district am just going their for two days

  • JONATHAN PAUL GREGORY
    8:24 AM, April 2020

    Hi can you please assist me with a personal and vehicle pass for essential movements. I am a Warden with the British Embassy currently working with DIG based at Sierra Rutile Minesite. I have been carrying out essential support in both Port Loko district and the Bonthe areas where there a number of UK citizens currently living and working in Sierra Leone. My contact and support at the British Embassy is Alfred Sivalie (Vice Consul). My vehicle details are.
    Registration Number – AKJ 616 Vehicle Make Nissan Navara.
    My Contact Numbers – 033883702. 076413507.
    Your help and support with this request will be greatly appreciated.

    john.

  • Alfred Tengbeg
    10:10 AM, April 2020

    The E-pass process is so slow that it does not suit the comfort of emergencies.

  • Nancy Koroma
    2:59 PM, April 2020

    How long does it take to process the pass.

  • ABU BAKARR SESAY
    8:52 PM, April 2020

    Good

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