Overwhelming number of uncollected passports a concern

THE Department of Civil Registry says it is overwhelmed by the number of uncollected passports due to the efficiency of the e-passport system.

The new system was officially launched by President Mnangagwa in December 2021 with a trial run rolling out on January 18 last year.

The new passport is critical as it enables Zimbabwe to keep pace with the dynamics and ever-changing technological environment.

In the past, members of the public complained about the slow issuance of passports resulting in individuals spending long hours in queues to be served.

The introduction of the e-passport was therefore a big game-changer as it has helped to clear the passport backlog.

Lithuanian company, Garsu Pasaulis, partnered with the Government on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement to produce the new passport that meets modern international standards.

The production of the e-passport will see the country being able to refurbish provincial and district offices and provide material to produce IDs, with the goal of having an e-passport centre in each of the country’s 59 districts.

However, the success of the E-passport system has led to a new problem for the department — too many uncollected passports.In an interview, the Registrar General, Mr Henry Machiri, expressed concern at the increasing number of people that are not collecting their passports.

He said his fear is that they might run out of space to keep the passports.

Mr Machiri urged citizens to come and collect their passports, saying some of them might expire before being used.

“The challenge which we are now having countrywide is that as a result of the efficiency of this new system, we now have more passports awaiting collection and our fear is that we might run out of space soon,” said Mr Machiri.

He said those who applied for passports including those who did so before the launch of the e-passport, should check with their respective offices.

Mr Machiri said the department has zero tolerance for corruption and those engaging in corrupt activities will be ruthlessly dealt with.

“Let me re-emphasise that it takes two to have a corrupt transaction, the public and a member of our staff. We need to remind our citizens to refrain from bribing Government workers and those that have information on corrupt activities or are asked to pay bribes should not hesitate to report to us or the police.We investigate all reports of corruption and those found on the wrong side of the law will be prosecuted,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Machiri said the Gwanda passport office will be issuing e-passports before the end of next month, a development that will ease pressure on the Bulawayo offices.

He said one of the reasons for the long queues in Bulawayo was that the offices were catering for people from various parts of the region such as Plumtree, Gwanda and Beitbridge in Matabeleland South and parts of Matabeleland North.

“Before the end of May, the e-passport office in Gwanda will be operational as the renovations there are more than 90 percent complete,” said Mr Machiri. Source |Chronice

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