The Director of the Passport Office, Mohammed Habib Idris, has disclosed that his outfit is making efforts to clear a backlog of 40,000 passports that are yet to be printed.
According to him, the delay in printing the travel documents was due to the restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic which affected the importation of passport booklets.
“Currently, the outstanding passports to be printed are just about 40,000, so we are making efforts to ensure that it is cleared,” he said in an interview on the Hard Truth television show last Tuesday.
He added: “The disruptions actually were as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. And you know passport booklets are not printed in Ghana, but it is not only Ghana that imports passport booklets from outside our jurisdiction. You know so many countries do that? Yes. So the shortage was actually as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.”
He also spoke about inefficiencies in the passport acquisition process associated with the lack of professionalism and staff strength at the passport office.
He said persons seconded to the Passport Office were to serve for six months, but according to Mr Idris, some of them have been at post for more than a year, fuelling the perception of corruption at the office.
“One of the problems that passport offices encounter is the longevity of officers assigned to the passport office. The longer a person stays there, there is a tendency for over-familiarity with outsiders,” he said
“The inefficiencies cut across all levels, from personnel to equipment and processes. In terms of personnel, we are taking measures to rationalise the human resources that we have at the passport office.
“You know that the passport office relies on the expertise of stakeholder agencies for the processing and acquisition of passports. You know there has been feedback on the level and size of personnel that we have.
“We are looking at rationalising, for now, it’s difficult to put a number on it, but I can tell you that something is being done about it”.