Mad Rush For Biometric Passports

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……As Foreign Affairs Ministry Resumes Issuance Of Travel Documents

By Cecil Mensah

Long queues, were yesterday Thursday, January 15, 2015 formed at the old Foreign Affairs Ministry’s office in Accra near Tema Station Lorry Terminal in the Ministries area by Ghanaians yearning to acquire passports.

Scores of young adults as of 6: 00 AM in the wee hours of the morning, have besieged the dilapidated and burnt office of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, which now serves as the Greater Accra Regional Biometric Passport Office, hoping to acquire the said travel documents.

Amazingly, the ages of the young adults, who had queued ranges from twenty five (25) years and above, the country’s active workforce.

It was, however, not clear the purposes for which these young adults, were acquiring the travel documents for.

The Herald can also not readily report whether the rush was to meet a deadline for the acquisition of the documents for travelling and identification of Nationality.
Meanwhile, when The Herald visited the National Passport Office in Ridge near State House, the situation was different as the place looks usually quiet, as compared to the Biometric office in the burnt Foreign Affairs building.

The queues, which had extended to the entrance of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), were for claims and issuance of Biometric passports that has delayed
over the years.

Last year, The Herald broke a story that the Passport Office, under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has run out of booklets for processing the Biometric Passports for it clients.

The crisis, has been lingering on for the past two weeks with messages sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to no avail.

The situation, according to some staff has grinded the office to a halt and had not been able to live up to expectation in terms of issuing passports, even though some clients have paid for express service.

Interestingly, while some members of staff are putting the blame at the door step of the Minister, others have kept silence for fear of being thrown out by the powerful Minister, who has unfazed access to the Office of the President at the Flag Staff House.

The Herald’s visit to the Passport Office near the Press Centre of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and adjacent to the residence of the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Joseph Afotey Agbo in the Ridge area, spotted several clients waiting at the entrance to be served or take delivery of their passports.

When The Herald contacted the Deputy Director of Passports, Mr. Dery Bosco, he told this reporter that he is not the appropriate person to speak on the issue.

There are indications that some clients, whose monies have been taken by the passport office will be demonstrating by the close of this week.

Some of them complained that they need to travel and have made visa appointments at the various embassies.

But, Mr. Dery Bosco, directed this reporter to speak with his boss Eric Odoi, the Director of Passport, claiming that he (Dery Bosco) is currently at a meeting.
The Herald, further called up the sector Minister, Madam Hannah Tetteh, to get some insight into the issue of the shortage of Passport booklets, but her phone was dead.

At the time of going to press, a text message that was sent to the Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Awutu Senya East Constituency in the Central Region, had not been responded to.

When this paper contacted officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, an officer told this reporter that the sector Minister was out of the country.

The officer further said that the Ministry has a policy for officers not to divulged information to the press in the absence of the Minister.

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