In the wake of frequent shortage of passport booklets in the country, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has appealed to Ghanaians to apply for passport only when it becomes necessary.
Acquisition of passport in Ghana has become a major challenge for Ghanaians and the Passport Office due to a number of factors, including inadequate printing machines, breakdown of equipment and shortage of passport booklets.
It usually takes some people more than a year to acquire a Ghanaian biometric passport, which ordinarily should take about four weeks to be processed in the case of a regular service.
The situation has allegedly created a booming business for some persons who parade themselves as agents and are able to facilitate quick acquisition of passports, in some cases within 24 hours, at a cost of at least 700 cedis.
The Passport Office has recently received backlash for its inability to process passport applications on time, as well as the cumbersome and centralised process, which applicants say overburden them.
In view of these, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday issued a statement to announce some reforms to help resolved the challenges that have characterised passport acquisition in the country.
The statement said the Ministry is assisting the Passport Office to adopt a number of steps, including improvements in procurement of passport booklets.
“The Ministry is also appealing to Ghanaians to endeavour to apply for a passport when they have need for it.”
“Hopefully, shortage of booklets should be a thing of the past,” it said, and added
It announced the purchase of passport application forms from banks and post offices have been scraped and put in place an online system where the forms would be downloaded for free from the Ministry’s website.
That, it explained is part of measures to make the passport application forms “readily accessible to all Ghanaians”.
Payment for the passport processing fees of 50 cedis and 100 cedis for regular and express services respectively at the bank has also been abolished. Effective November 1, all the payments are to be made through mobile money and MasterCard.
Delays partly caused by applicants
Meanwhile, the Ministry has partly blamed passport applicants in the country for the delays in the processing of passports.
According to the Ministry, its checks at the Passport Office have revealed some applicants do not provide accurate and verigiable information when applying for passports.
“The Ministry through the Passport Office has learnt that delays in passport processing occur partly as a result of the failure by applicants to provide accurate and verifiable data or information,” it said in a statement Thursday.
It has consequently asked all applicants to ensure information they provide on the application form is accurate to ensure speedy processing of passports.
Again, it said not only does inaccurate information delays in the processing of passports, providing “misleading information with your passport application is an offence under the laws of Ghana.
The Ministry thus reminded all applicants that they are responsible for all the information they provide, even when someone else completed the application forms for them.
By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana