New 2012 issue date dashes travel plans
The hope to travel outside the country has been dashed for hundreds of people who left the application for the newly introduced e-passport too late.
This follows an Immigration Department announcement that those who submitted applications from Friday last week will have to wait for their passports to be issued next year.
Assistant Manager of Communications in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs,Osesenaqa Lekgoko said that those who had not applied for e-Passports by last week Friday must wait for next year or pay for Extra Service if they were desperate to travel.
Extra service costs P520,twice the amount required for standard national service and it is meant to slash the issuing process from 14 to two days.
“We have introduced Express Service and Extra Service which cost P390 and P520 respectively, which will get your passports done in fewer days unlike the National Service which takes 14 days.”
Lekgoko explained that the long and gruelling experience of queuing for hours for passports was caused by the race to beat the December 31st deadline, forcing the Gaborone office to operate on weekends.
“People are coming in large numbers trying to beat the deadline which is December 31st but I advise those who do not have a pressing need to travel outside the country during the festive season to give those who are desperate a chance.”
A visit to the Immigration office has revealed disgruntled and desperate people caught up in a snaking queue with the hope of a passport, despite the announcement about having to wait for next year to travel.
An unhappy customer, Trefina Maretele expressed disappointment that after parting with P520 for Express Service a week had passed without the document. She was forced to reschedule her trip to South Africa, she said.
Other hopefuls, Annie Lottering and Abaleng Khombani from Molepolole explained that they chose to apply in Gaborone hoping for better service but they were proved wrong.
“We arrived here early in the morning but as you can see we have not been helped and it is already knock off time. We have to come back tomorrow,”Lottering said. Oagile Samson, yet another displeased customer was demanding his money back because he felt cheated after he paid for Extra Service that failed to deliver within the set time. “I applied in Serowe but I was told to collect it here. And now I am being told to wait for more days but I don’t have accommodation here, which forces me to go back to Serowe only to come back another time,” said Samson who applied late because he was out of the country.
Meanwhile Lekgoko highlighted her office’s concern about thousands of uncollected passports. 23 095 out of the 170 760 passports issued so far have not been collected, Lekgoko revealed
The adoption of the E-Passport is in compliance with the standards specified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
“Persons aged 16 and above are required to bring an identity Card (ID), if parents are alive, their surnames and ID numbers and place of birth is required. For those under 16, original birth certificates are needed.” e-passport has a life span of ten years for adult and five years for a child under the age of 16.