AWRIGHT DEN: Passport section
LAST WEEK I WENT to the Passport Section of the Immigration Department to apply for a passport for one of my daughters. The entire process lasted two hours and I used the time to make some observations and recommendations.
1. Lack of information
Probably more than 50 per cent of applicants had to leave to get their birth, marriage or divorce certificates, citizenship documents or ID cards photocopied. Interestingly enough, the week before I had an appointment and when I arrived, I didn’t have any photocopies and I didn’t have my daughter with me. As a result, I had to return.
The immigration website does state at the bottom right-hand section of the “How do I apply for a passport?” page, that “originals and photocopies of documents must be submitted”, and “minors must accompany parents for passport applications”.
Since so many persons arrived to their appointments (including me) not having fulfilled the above, I analysed the process and believe I have found a possible cause: Reminders and instructions missing from the downloadable application form.
Although an individual may have read the information on the website and downloaded the application form, there could be days, even weeks, before the scheduled appointment. Applicants would generally refer to instructions on the front page of the application form for guidance rather than revisit the website.
Nowhere on the application form or the website does it specifically state that applicants must photocopy their ID cards and those of their children if applying on their behalf.
Update the application form information page to give a reminder to walk with photocopies of all documents, including of ID cards and to have minors accompany their parents.
2. Photocopying services
I understand that businesses need to make profits but where profit margins are ridiculously large, especially as a result of abusing a situation, something needs to be done.
People who arrive without the photocopied documents or ID cards go to a nearby photo company to get the job done. People can talk what they like about the cost of convenience but charging people $2 per photocopy on plain paper is not right given that the market price is around 35 cents. That is a 471 per cent price mark-up. One person had to pay $4 to get an ID card copied: one page for the front and one for the back. Ridiculous!
The Immigration Department should invest in a photocopying machine and charge a reasonable fee to have applicants’ documents photocopied. The department would have a competitive advantage given that applicants wouldn’t have to leave the department or building and the price would be significantly less. The money accumulated could be used to maintain the printing service.
3. Other locations
I am one who fully appreciates and utilises the facilities in Warrens to conduct business relating to the Government. I believe there is need for at least one other location where the Immigration Department can function from. I don’t know if there is additional space in any of the buildings in the Warrens area but it is something I believe should be considered.
4. Public safety
At 0830 hrs, I arrived outside the department with my daughter, only to be greeted with a “crowd” of individuals standing outside the entrance, while others waited across the road. I understand why people queue in this area but from a road safety perspective, it isn’t a wise place to stand.
Any motorist who encounters any difficulty or lapses in judgement while exiting from Wharf Road on to Parry Street, could easily injure or kill someone waiting at the entrance of the Immigration Department.
People should wait elsewhere and bollards installed at the entrance to the building.
• Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth youth ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email: [email protected]