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Government clears 180 000 passport backlog

by Staff reporter
05 Oct 2022 at 06:33hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has cleared the passport backlog which had reached close to 180 000 following the introduction of e-passports.

President Mnangagwa launched the new secure electronic passport in Harare in December last year before the programme kicked off in January this year.

Backlog had reached 176 000 owing to faulty machines, shortage of passport printing paper before the Civil Registry Department partnered Lithuanian Garsu Pasaulis (GP) to process e-passports.

Between January and August 140 000 passports had been issued and the remainder was processed in the last two months.

In an interview in Victoria Falls, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Permanent Secretary Mr Aaron Nhepera said work is underway to open more provincial and district e-passport offices countrywide.

"The nation would recall that before we engaged services of the company that we are working with in processing e-passports, we had a backlog that was in excess of 170 000 and I am happy to announce that the backlog has been cleared," he said.

Mr Nhepera said e-passports are being issued in Harare, Bulawayo, Lupane, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Murehwa and Beitbridge.

Work is underway at the Chinhoyi office in Mashonaland West and Marondera in Mashonaland East.

Mr Nhepera said focus will also be on developing and opening offices Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Masvingo provinces.

He said Matabeleland South will have another e-passport office in Gwanda.

Mr Nhepera said lack of proper provincial offices in many of the country's rural provinces was delaying the roll-out. He said construction work had started in Mutare.

"The intention is that by December all provincial capitals should have e-passport offices hence we are working on the issue of buildings. We are also moving to districts such as Zvishavane to ensure services are close to the people," he said.

In future, passport seekers will not go to passport offices as they would be able to download forms and apply online and only visit the Registry Offices to collect their documents as the Government implements e-government services.

Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in Africa producing e-passports. The electronic passport is in line with the global shift towards biometric data-based identity and travel documents.

An e-passport contains an electronic chip, which holds the same information that is printed on the passport's data page, which include the holder's name, date of birth and other biographic information.

The document also contains a biometric identifier. The features are designed to protect citizens from identity theft. E-passports also allow faster passage through border posts.

Source - The Chronicle