Mas­sive back­log forces sus­pen­sion of emer­gency pass­ports

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Nqo­bile Tshili

THE Regis­trar Gen­eral’s Of­fice has tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended is­su­ing emer­gency pass­ports to clear a back­log of over 2 000 pass­ports.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic who are seek­ing the emer­gency trav­el­ling doc­u­ments are forced to ap­ply for the “nor­mal” pass­port which costs $53 and is now be­ing re­leased af­ter about two months as a re­sult of the back­log.

Nor­mally the pass­port is re­leased within three weeks of ap­pli­ca­tion.

An emer­gency pass­port which takes 24 hours to be re­leased costs $318 while the one re­leased in three days costs $253.

In an in­ter­view, yes­ter­day Regis­trar Gen­eral Mr Tobaiwa Mud­ede said his of­fice was try­ing to clear the pass­port back­log hence the need to tem­po­rar­ily re­ject new ap­pli­ca­tions for emer­gency pass­ports.

“We have a back­log of nearly 2 000 pass­ports and that’s a lot. We have not sus­pended is­su­ing pass­ports, there is a back­log that we are try­ing to clear. This thing is tem­po­rary. We don’t force sit­u­a­tions,” said Mr Mud­ede.

“If you want to use the word we have ‘slowed down’ in ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, that’s the right lan­guage to use. We will start ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for emer­gency pass­ports once we clear the back­log,” said Mr Mud­ede.

He said it will not make sense for his of­fice to con­tinue ac­cept­ing new ap­pli­cants for emer­gency pass­ports when his of­fi­cers are bat­tling to clear the back­log.

Mr Mud­ede said his of­fice does not want to find it­self be­ing per­se­cuted pub­licly for fail­ing to de­liver hence the need to slow down in tak­ing peo­ple’s money.

“We must deal with the back­log and fin­ish be­fore we open again for new ap­pli­ca­tions. To ac­cept new ap­pli­ca­tions and just park them is not the right thing to do. You wouldn’t like that, you will say no no why have you ac­cepted my money when you can­not de­liver,” he said.

Mr Mud­ede said when peo­ple sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tions they ex­pect to re­ceive their pass­ports within the pre­scribed pe­riod so to avoid in­con­ve­nienc­ing the peo­ple, his of­fice has tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended re­ceiv­ing new ap­pli­ca­tions es­pe­cially for emer­gency pass­ports that should be availed within hours or few days.

Many peo­ple who ap­plied for nor­mal pass­ports, some as far back as May this year, are yet to re­ceive them and this has been blamed on the re­duced num­bers be­ing pro­cessed by the RG’s of­fice.

The ap­pli­cants said they are in the dark as to what has caused the de­lays given that in the past it was just a three-week wait for a nor­mal pass­port.

“The RG’s of­fice has since been com­put­erised and the pro­cess­ing of pass­ports was sup­posed to be faster com­pared to the past when the whole process was man­ual,” said one of the ap­pli­cants who said she sub­mit­ted her ap­pli­ca­tion in May.

The ap­pli­cants called on the RG’s of­fice to ur­gently ad­dress the is­sue of the back­log, say­ing pass­ports are very im­por­tant travel doc­u­ments.— @nqot­shili

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