Passport offices digitalise
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In an interview, Co-Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi said passport seekers would soon be downloading the application form online.
After that they complete and take it to the passport office where they will pay application fees.
Minister Mohadi said the development will improve efficiency and reduce time spent queuing for the forms.
However, forms will still be available at the offices.
"There is now efficiency at the passport office because we have managed to get more printers. Our staff is doing overtime and passports are being processed every hour to clear the backlog," said Minister Mohadi.
"People will soon be able to download the form and only go to the passport office to get a serial number and pay for the document and submit the form. The Registrar General's office has digitalised and soon everything will be very efficient."
An ordinary passport costs $50 and takes a month while an emergency passport, which takes three days, costs $250.
Of late, the Bulawayo provincial Registrar General's office has witnessed a reduction in the number of people seeking passports and temporary travelling documents compared to previous years when hundreds of passport applicants would spend nights in the queues to get the forms.
The Registrar General's office resorted to a system whereby passport seekers would make appointments for them to be attended to in a bid to cope with the increased demand.
Minister Mohadi said although the new system might sound ambitious because most people do not have access to computers, the development would be handy especially for urban passport seekers.
"This is a positive development for urban passport seekers and those with computers who can access the document online. Very soon there will be no need to queue at the Registrar General's offices.
"As long as the headquarters is connected, that means all offices countrywide will have the facility," said Minister Mohadi.
Chronicle visited the Bulawayo provincial offices yesterday morning where there were scores of passport seekers.
Those who spoke to Chronicle expressed confidence that they would be served as the queue was moving fast.
"I came in the morning to apply for a passport and it is better these days because we do not have to wake up very early or sleep outside the premises as people used to do. These days it seems everyone who comes in the morning is attended to," said Mr Mika Mhlanga of Sizinda. There was however commotion at the provincial passport offices yesterday afternoon forcing officials to call in the police to restore order.
Contacted for comment, the Bulawayo provincial registrar Mrs Jane Peters confirmed that the new system was on the cards.
"We have not yet started although it is coming. I guess we are going to do that soon. However, one thing for sure is that we are attending to everybody," said Mrs Peters.
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