By Cecil Mensah
The lack of a generator set at the Births and Deaths Registry, is delaying the issuance of birth certificates to Ghanaians as a result of the power crisis the nation is currently grappling with.
Since the beginning of this year, the office of the Births and Deaths Registry, near the office of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), has been recording long queues from young men and women seeking birth certificates, depicting a market place confusion.
Interestingly, the registry which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, one of the vibrant Ministries in the Country, has no standby generator to ensure quick printing of the certificates to patrons, part away with various sums to get access to the essential document. The same document is vitally needed by one to access a passport.
But over the years, the Births and Deaths Registry throughout the country, has not seen any face lift in terms of equipment and infrastructure. Most of its offices are housed in makeshift structures in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies of the Regions.
The Herald, was told that the Accra office of the Births and Deaths Registry, has only one printing machine for printing certificates requested from the other nine regions, thus putting pressure and stress on both officers and the few machines available.
Aside the power crisis causing the long queues and delays, frequent breakdown of the printing machines, shortages of toners, as well as artificial shortages of stationery, have also been a bane to the crucial institution, which interestingly pours huge cash into state coffers.
Information available to The Herald, says that the issues of frequent break down of the printing machines and the shortage of toners are some of the excuses devised by some unscrupulous officials of the registry to take undue advantage of predicaments of the registry to fleece innocent clients.
Reports are that, clients pay as much as GH¢100 for a certificate that will be ready within a week, GH¢200 and more for instant certificates through some middlemen and women, who are best described as “Goro boys” or agents. Whereas the amount for issuing a birth certificate is GH¢50, these agents make a windfall taking advantage of the situation the registry is facing.
These agents flood the wooden office of the registry on daily basis, hoping to pounce on clients, who do not know the process of getting a birth certificate.
Indeed, the “Goro boys’, The Herald learnt, are in league with some staff of the registry, who aid them in acquiring the birth certificates at exorbitant prices at the expense of innocent Ghanaians.
Of particular concern to officials is the lack of generator to power their machines, when the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), takes power as part of the ongoing load-shedding.
When The Herald visited the office last week, there was large number of clients gathered at the registry, waiting to be served.
The clients, were bitterly complaining about the delays in the issuance of the birth right document, although there are a lot of requests, and papers available.
It was, however, not clear the purpose for the mad rush for the document. Amazingly, in other countries the document is issued at birth.
However, some said they needed it for their mature students’ admission and for processing their travel documents, especially passport.
The document, is in hot demand particularly from young adults between the ages of sixteen and thirty years, The Herald, wonders why the authorities have not found it expedient to at least purchase a generator to run the Accra office, which serve all the other nine regions.
It is also unclear, why the authorities are not resourcing the other regional offices to cut down the pressure and stress on the Accra office.
A similar situation is happening at the Passport Office. More to come!