…As Minister Storms, Promises To Procure More Printing Machines For Passport Office
By Frank Amponsah
About sixty thousand (60,000) passports which have not been claimed are gathering dust at the shelves of Greater Accra Regional Passport Office, the Foreign Minister has disclosed.
Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey is therefore appealing to the general public to take steps to claim their passports to clear the shelves of the Passport Directorate.
The Foreign Minister has also revealed that Government is taking immediate steps to procure more printing machines for the Greater Accra Regional Passport Office, and the head office, to speed up the printing and acquisition of the identification document.
Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, who is also the Member of Parliament for Gbawe in Accra announced the decision when she stormed the Passport Office last Friday, to familiarize herself with the process of acquiring passport.
During the unannounced visit to the office, the Minister discovered that the office had only two printing machines which have the capacity to print about 500 passports a day- a situation which compelled the minister to announce that acquiring additional passport printing machines, is a national emergency which needed urgent attention from her Ministry.
She, however, pledged that measures would be put in place going forward for the procurement of more printing machines.
According to Minister she concluded that the process for passport acquisition was seriously cumbersome and unacceptable after she was informed by officers at the Passport Directorate that they were able to serve only one hundred (100) applicants daily.
This cut off quota system however informed the decision of applicants to come as early as 2am to queue in order to make the number.
The Minister averred that in order to ease the congestion at the Accra Passport Office, and stop applicants from coming this early to acquire passports, the decentralization efforts by her Ministry was going to be intensified, through which more passport offices would be opened, starting from Cape Coast in the Central Region.
During the visit, Hon. Ayorkor Botchwey, was taken through all the stages that passport applicants were subjected to should they desire to acquire passports.
She also interacted with some passport applicants who were at the regional office to receive their passports.
At the online passport application unit however, the process appeared to be calmer and applicants were going through the process smoothly. The Minister therefore made a passionate appeal to Ghanaians to patronize the online portal for their passport applications.
The Minister received collection slips from about six (6) applicants who have been following their passports for several months.
She instructed passport officers to run checks while she goes on her tour and report to her their findings before she leaves the premises. After 30 minutes, the officers produce the printed passports of four (4) out of the six and promised to deal with the remaining two whose applications were at various stages of completion.
She vowed to speed up the passport acquisition processes in the country to ensure that the laid down procedures and timelines for obtaining a passport were adhered to.