Editorial: Ministry of Foreign Affairs should address Passport acquisition saga once and for all

The Chronicle has observed that passport acquisition in Ghana has become a herculean task for those wishing to travel abroad. Day in and day out, Ghanaians both within and outside the country are complaining bitterly about the failure of the Passport Office to provide them with new passport booklets when they apply for them.

When Ghana announced the leveraging of technology to enhance the efficiency of passport operations with the digitalisation of the passport application for improved service delivery, it was hailed as a step in the right direction because of the frustrations Ghanaians were going through before securing the vital travel document. Unfortunately, the excitement has been short-lived as the struggle to acquire passports has rather exacerbated.

Unconfirmed reports reaching us indicate that acquisition of passport is now fraught with fraud, as middle men, popularly known as ‘goro boys’, have taken charge and are fleecing unsuspecting Ghanaians eager to acquire the travel document.

An announcement made late last year by the Foreign Affairs Ministry on the suspension of issuance of the 48 paged passport booklets due to increased demands and continuing supply chain constraints might have led to the under hand dealings. The activity of ‘middle men’ is obviously not sanctioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but is as a result of the scarcity of the passport booklets.

If the online passport application process had worked according to plan, it wouldn’t take more than a week for one to acquire a Ghanaian passport. Unfortunately there are people who have applied for close to two years and have still not received their passports.

On March 21, 2023 The Chronicle came across a news item filed by the state-owned Ghana News Agency under the headline: ‘Ghana to take delivery of Passport Printing Machines from World Bank.’

The news item quoted Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration as saying Ghana was due to receive two giant industrial printing machines from the World Bank, under the Public Sector Reform for Results Project (PSRRP).

The Minister is on record to have said the arrival of the machines would help the Passport Office to clear all outstanding backlogs within a week.

“It is imperative to indicate that these giant industrial machines have the capacity to print about two thousand passports within an hour,” Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said on the floor of Parliament, in her response to a question filed by Mr William Okofo-Darteh, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Jaman South.

Almost two months after the ministry gave this assurance, it appears the situation has still not changed, as people are still struggling to acquire the passports. The Chronicle is worried about this development and, therefore, calling on the sector minister to buckle down and ensure that the machines she promised arrives on time to deal with the situation.

Of course, The Chronicle is not oblivious of the fact that the country is facing serious economic challenges. But this should not be a barrier that will stop people from acquiring their passports.

According to myjoyonline.com news report in December last year, Ghana maintained its position as the 2nd largest recipient of remittances in Africa, recording $4.7 billion inflows in 2022. This is 4.4% more than the previous year of 2021.

The news portal quoting World Bank Migration and Development Brief said Ghana received the second-largest remittance inflow in dollar terms and the ninth-largest level in relation to Gross Domestic Product in Africa. Indeed, it constituted 6.1% of GDP. This story is a clear indication that Ghanaians living abroad are contributing substantially to the economic development of this country.

This is the reason why the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should speed up the acquisition of the printing machine to fast-track the passport printing process so that those who need it genuinely to travel abroad and come back to help the development of mother Ghana are not unduly frustrated.


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