Opinion

Breaking the jinx of passport acquisition

The acquisition of Ghana’s travel document, passport, has never been easy. If the difficulty in acquiring it has to do with the checks to ensure that only qualified persons possess them; that should be fine. Even then we are in a day and age when technology and ICT have broken down the hurdles of years past and so for us, some of the challenges are self-created to exaggerate the size of the workload and promote corruption.

The security document – the property of the government of Ghana, regardless of the checks, can be traced to unqualified persons: after all with money, a lot of seemingly impossible things can be accomplished.

The efficiency of those in charge of the processing of the application for passports and their eventual acquisition can be measured by the reduction to the barest minimum the pain of waiting and other telling challenges at the hands of angry staff who think the services they render are favours to their compatriots.

With the efforts of so-called ‘goro boys’ nowhere near relenting, their connivance with insiders constituting a real obstacle, the nauseating anomalies have continued.

Various interventions have been adopted, we must point out, over the years all in a bid to smoothen the process of passport acquisition. The results have, as pointed out earlier, not been heartwarming.

A few weeks ago, a thriving black market business erupted with the shortage of passport forms. An explanation, however, has not been received as to whether the shortage was deliberate to trigger a black market or not.

It is a fact that some applicants turned to other parts of the country with less demand for the forms to buy. The shortage responded quickly to the forces of supply and demand as cost of passport forms shot up.

It is heartwarming therefore that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs And Regional Integration intervened with passport acquisition novelties which, it would appear, could break the jinx around the travel document.

It is our hope that the intervention would address the challenges which for many years have constituted hurdles in the acquisition of passports.

It is not easy to eliminate middlemen or goro boys in the process chain of any document such as passport or even drivers’ licences; empirical evidence available to buttress this assertion. With perseverance and readiness to listen to good counsel by those in charge, significant improvements can be made and otherwise insurmountable hurdles can be traversed.

The most daunting task, however, is dealing with the internal elements who collude with the middlemen to thwart efforts to bring sanity into the processes.

It is important to undertake periodic review of newly unfolded measures to determine their effectiveness, challenges and how to quickly respond to these.

Allowing unqualified persons, those who are not citizens of this country, to hold our passports is a criminal activity with far-reaching implications.

Let us watch how the new measures pan out.

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