Some Ghanaians hoping to receive their passports at the Ridge office in Accra would have to wait a little longer as officials are yet to clear a backlog before printing new ones.
This follows a closure of the office last week due to an electrical fault that affected their printers.
According to a Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Habib Tijani, although the office resumed work last Friday, only one third of the backlog had been cleared.
Mr. Tijani however told Citi News all outstanding passports will be printed by close of day today [ Thursday].
“As at Friday, there was a complete rehabilitation of the place and they started working and started printing passports. Our only problem was how to recover or be able to do the backlog. As I tell you, we have covered one third of what we should have done if the thing had not broken down. We should understand that if there is a backlog, there will be a lot of rush and panic. We use to give people three four days to pick their passports. Definitely it is not going to be as usual, picking your passport between three, or four or five days because of the backlog.I am assuring the public that by the close of day today, [Friday] we will be able to cover the backlog and normal processing will go on”.
Corruption at the passports office’
A survey conducted by the Ghana Integrity initiative anti-corruption Consortium in 2017, identified the passports office as one of the few government agencies where bribery and corruption is pervasive.
The survey, which was to assess citizen’s understanding of corruption, their perceptions and actual experiences of corruption, show that Ghanaians still perceived the passports office as well as the police service, political parties and the judiciary as being corrupt.
It however revealed that Ghanaians do not regard the payment of what is commonly called facilitation fee as a form of corruption.
Passport acquisition in Ghana
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has given indications that it intends to make the process of passport acquisition in Ghana easy and efficient, a departure from what can best be described as one of the most frustrating processes to go through in the country.
Despite promises by successive governments to improve the process, many Ghanaians are forced to pay bribes, pay exorbitant charges through middlemen popularly known as ‘gorro boys’ or queue as early as 3:00am each day to have their passport applications processed especially at the Accra application center.
The forms for regular application currently goes for GHS 50, and are expected to be processed within 4 weeks, while the forms for express applications are being sold for GHS 100, and are expected to be processed within 2 weeks, although the duration may slightly vary.