Delays with the acquisition of passports have, over the years, been an issue of concern for many Ghanaians.
On countless occasions, there have been complaints from sections of Ghanaians about their inability to secure their passport even after their collection date is due.
While some have alleged that monies are taken from them to expedite the process of acquisition, others have indicated that they have had to contact persons at the various passport offices with whom they have some personal relationship, to intervene.
Director of Passports at the Passport Office, Louis Obeng has been addressing the issue, providing explanations as to why there may be delays in getting one’s passport.
Speaking in an interview on Citi FM, Mr. Obeng explained that ordinarily, every process for passport acquisition is done online. GHC150 is charged for the expedited process while GHC100 is charged for the standard.
According to him, the expedited is supposed to take a maximum of 10 days for the applicant to receive his or her passport. The regular, on the other hand, he said, will take about 21 working days.
Regardless of this, he explained, these factors may delay the process:
Issues with information or data provided:
According to Mr. Obeng, vetting which is key in the application process determines the progress of the same. He explained that the process delays if there is an issue found with data the applicant may have provided.
“When it comes to applying for a passport, we do vetting of applications, and sometimes you vet an application and realise that the data the person provided, requires further investigation so this factor might cause a delay in issuing the passport to the applicant,” he said.
Mr. Obeng also noted that applicants who apply twice within the same period may have issues with the processing of their data because the system detects the anomaly and it also has to be investigated.
“I had a case where the person applied twice. He applied once and then applied again without indicating that he had done that application so as soon as the application hit our system, our system blocked it so the case was suspended.
“In this case, you may have paid 150 but the system may not have been able to issue it to you on the stipulated date because of this issue and we encounter a number of them on a daily basis,” he added.
The Director of Passports also noted that if the application raises any suspicions or problems, the process is halted and investigated to determine whether or not it will proceed.
“There are also instances where the application could be queried, we call something ‘superior intervention’ – which means that there’s a problem with the application that has to be looked into,” Mr. Obeng said.
Failure to check your text messages for alerts on application status:
This may seem rather insignificant but it has been mentioned as one of the reasons applicants have delays with the acquisition of their passports.
Mr. Obeng, while giving details on Citi FM noted that the Passport Office makes it a point to send status updates to applicants through text messages to inform them about the stage their application has gotten to.
He however noted with worry the fact that most of these messages are not checked and or do not reach the persons they are meant for. This he says, contributes to delays.
“Some applicants use numbers that don’t belong to them and so SMS alerts are sent and they don’t receive it and sometimes people don’t read their SMS,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Mr. Obeng urged all applicants who are facing challenges with the acquisition of their passports to call the Passport Office helplines for clarification, inquiries and updates as and when they are needed.
“So if an applicant applies and there’s a delay, it is important for the applicant to follow up and find out what is holding up the application.
“There are helplines so if you don’t get your passport on a specified date, you have the responsibility of calling to check,” he added.