Passport backlog to clear by year end

Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter

THE Government expects to clear the passport backlog by year-end after issuing more than 200 000 travel documents since August last year.

From a backlog of 400 000 in the period under review, the deficit has been significantly reduced to the current 184 000.

Cabinet yesterday also reported smooth progress in the e-passport production project which is expected to significantly reduce the cost of passports and will be in compliance with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had noted the progress on the revamping of the passport office.

“The nation will recall that during its ninth meeting, Cabinet approved a strategy by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to clear the country’s passport backlog that had accumulated to over 400 000 by August 2020.

“It is pleasing to note that the backlog has since been reduced to the current 184 000. It is anticipated that the backlog would have been cleared by the end of December 2021,” said Minister Mutsvangwa

The model crafted by the Government allows locals with free funds to apply and pay for passports in foreign currency as part of measures to improved the funding structure of the production cycle.

Last year a production mismatch was reported as the first production stage, which is booklet printing, could only yield 8 000 passports a day.

The personalisation stage — which is the second step in the production line had the capacity of 3 500 a day while the final stage, which is quality control, had a daily capacity of 2 000.

Minister Mutsvangwa also gave a report on the e-passport production which is being worked out with a Lithuanian company and is expected to reduce the cost of passports.

Minister Mutsvangwa

“Cabinet also wishes to report that the implementation of a build, own, operate and transfer agreement with Garsu Pasaulis, a Lithuanian company on an e-passport production project is well on course with the aim of boosting production of passports, identification cards and birth certificates.”

“The final design of the Zimbabwean e-passport will be fully-compliant with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Minister Mutsvangwa said renovations at the Harare Passport enrolment centre, at the Civil Registry Building started last week while the Bulawayo Passport enrolment centre commences today. After the completion of these two sites, focus will shift to other remaining cities, satellite centres and designated embassies.

Minister Mutsvangwa said as a result of these interventions, it was envisaged that the cost of passports would be significantly reduced by year end.

She gave an update on the mobile registration of citizens which was completed this month.

“The mobile registration exercise that was taking place in Bikita, Tsholotsho and Bulilima districts came to an end on October 13, 2021, with a total of 10 685 national identification cards and 8 250 birth certificates having been issued.

“Focus will now shift to other disadvantaged communities, including Binga and vulnerable communities along the borders of the country,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

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