Support efforts to ensure sanity in passport acquisition

 The order by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Region­al Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, for the withdrawal of officers on secondment at the Passport Office in Accra must interest all public-spirited Ghanaians.

That interest has to do with the corruption allegedly being perpetrated by these persons, which keeps frus­trating efforts to streamline operations at the Passport Office through digitisation. (Read the details in our story on page 12).

In time past, acquisition of a passport was done manually and the human interface involved resulted in a lot of challenges.

Applicants had to direct­ly contact Passport Office workers or middlemen, with some applicants paying more than they should and others getting completely swindled.

Therefore, when the digitisation system was intro­duced, the public thought some sanity and relief had been brought into the sys­tem to protect applicants but that could not be.

We, therefore, share in the concerns raised by the minister and encourage her to implement her decision to the letter.

We think her decision is commendable because she has moved to rectify a situa­tion that has become a great hindrance to the acquisition of a passport in the country.

Those who are supposed to help applicants rather put stumbling blocks in their way so that they can have the grounds to shortchange them.

Elsewhere like the US, on­line application is deep-root­ed and challenges we are talking about here are alien to them because passports are even delivered to appli­cants at home through their mail box.

We are happy the minister says her ministry wants to bring some sanity into the system and we pray that one day Ghanaian passport seek­ers will have the passports delivered to them at home.

We hope the investigations Ms Botchwey mentions as being underway to establish the perpetrators would not be undermined and that the offenders would be brought to book.

We do not expect the situ­ation where some big people would come and beg for them as it is usually the case in the country when certain people commit crime.

If people are found to have committed crime, they must be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to personnel who would replace those whose secondment has to be ended and also workers of the Passport Office.

Ms Botchwey has taken an initiative that must not be passed without bearing any fruit because some minis­ters are aware of some rot in their jurisdictions but are staying aloof.

We do not often hear about such moves in the country, so hers must be seen as exemplary at a time corruption is rife and seen as normal.

It is exemplary because at best, some heads of insti­tutions would deny such misconduct completely or promise to do one thing or another about it but that will be the end.

All stakeholders in this matter, including the media, should support the Foreign Affairs minister to succeed in this matter.

We hope the human interface in the process of acquiring passport in the country would be reduced to the barest minimum, if it cannot be completely elimi­nated, in order to uproot the corruption and the frustra­tions applicants suffer.

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