As part of efforts to overhaul the operations of the passport of office, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has disclosed that there are plans to build a new passport office which will look like a banking hall.
In the larger scheme of things, Ms Tetteh said National Security has began a collaborative move with the Ministry to restructure the current passport office to ensure an easy and fast issuance and renewal of Ghanaian passports.
[contextly_sidebar id=”URB66pnaj0ZR2KugXErurq00z8rYsTRW”]She said the new passport application center will be located within the old Ministry of Foreign Affairs building “which will indeed look like a banking hall with 10 stations so that people can come and capture their biometric data 10 at a time and with the necessary cameras and all of that so that once we do that, we will take the bulk of passport applications outside of the passport office which is where we know it to be right now.”
Many Ghanaians have complained about the difficulties and bureaucracies when one attempts to acquire or renew a passport, fuelling corrupt deals.
The centralized issuance of passports in Ghana has largely been blamed for contributing to underhand dealings and corruption which are perpetrated by some officials of the agency and some passport agents known as ‘Goro Boys.’
The centralized process often leads to the breakdown of the passport printing machines due to the pressure on the machines.
About a month ago, the passport printing machines broke down and according to the sector Minister, it created a backlog of over 21, 000 unprinted passports.
Speaking in a joint interview with Citi FM and Radio Gold, Ms Tetteh disclosed that she is “very much aware of what is happening in the passport office. It’s one of my biggest headaches.”
New printing machines
Listing some of the measures her outfit has put in place so far, the Minister said two new passport printing machines were ordered and currently, the over 21,000 passport backlog has been reduced to 17,000.
She projected that within a month, the 17,000 passports will be printed for their respective owners.
According to her, a couple of Ghana Missions in countries which have large numbers of Ghanaian nationals have been selected to print passports.
This, she said will reduce the pressures on the centralized office in Accra.
“We’ve picked a couple of our Missions where we have large Ghanaian diasporas…and they are also deploying the same passport printing equipment to those Missions so that the rush is not going to be on the passport office in Accra,” she explained.
The same equipment will be delivered to the various passport application centers in the regions.
She stressed that ‘Goro boys’ are not officials of the Ministry and her outfit has on a number of occasions sacked them off the premises but they over time return.
Ms Tetteh therefore mentioned that she has been working with the National Security Coordinator to devise ways of streamlining the staffing situation at the Passport Office “to have a better organizational structure so that it becomes less of a jungle out there.”
“Just like we have restructured the VIP lounge at the airport, we are working with National Security to restructure the Passport Office.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister was certain that all the measures which are being undertaken will benefit every Ghanaian.
“We’ve put in place the measures; we’ve put in place the equipment and we are going to do even more to make it easier and faster but the situation I came to meet was terrible. If I didn’t deal with the breakdown of equipment, everything I did would be cosmetic. It’s a demand and supply situation,” she said.
By: Efua Idan Osam/citifmonline.com/Ghana