In the next three weeks, the World Bank’s Public Sector Reform for Results Projects (PSRRP) will deliver two enormous industrial printing machines to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said the arrival of these 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 stated on the floor of Parliament in her response to a question by Mr William Okofo-Dateh, National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Jaman South.
The MP asked the Minister about the steps being taken by the Ministry to reduce the huge backlog of processed passport application forms since 2022.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said the steps being taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to reduce the backlog of printed passports were improving the capacity of passport printing machines and increasing the capacity to vet completed applications.
She said the Passport Office’s inability to print all processed applications within the stipulated time frame last year, as she had indicated on several numerous platforms was largely due to supply chain challenges, which was a result of COVID-19 pandemic and most recently, the Russia-Ukraine war.
“Fortunately for us, Mr Speaker, the Ministry took delivery of three hundred thousand passport booklets in October, 2022,” she stated.
“Mr Speaker, I am pleased to inform this august House that with the number of booklets supplied, the backlog cases reduced from over 120,000 in October 2022 to 22,698 by December 2022, but for the frequent breakdown of our printing machine, all the backlogs would have been cleared.”
She said it must be noted that completed applications go through various levels of vetting to ensure that only eligible applicants were issued with the Ghanaian passport.
Adding that to this end, the Passport Office had increased the number of vetting staff, who were also tasked to do extra hours occasionally, including working on weekends to clear outstanding passports yet to be printed.
“Mr Speaker, whilst efforts are underway to clear the backlogs, Passport Application Centres, particularly those in Kumasi and Accra have been saddled with the phenomenon of uncollected passports,” she said.
“Even though applicants are usually informed through text messages that their passports have been printed and sent to the various Passport Application Centres, a lot of passports are yet to be collected.”
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said the Ministry recently issued a public announcement and some applicants did turn up and collected their passports.
She said the Ministry would continue to course such announcements to be made periodically.
“I wish to use this opportunity to apologize to our compatriots who are yet to receive their passports and also to assure this august House and the entire citizens that the Ministry has put in place enough measures to prevent a future occurrence of this unfortunate incident and promise smooth and efficient service delivery,” she stated.
She also assured the House that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration continuous to give urgent applicants for passports the utmost attention that it requires.