The Passport Office is delaying the issuance of new passports due to a shortage of the green booklet used to produce the document.
A source with knowledge of the situation said Buck Press, the company that supplies the booklets, has held back new supplies because it has not been paid for previous deliveries.
The situation has created a huge backlog of pending applications, according to the source, and created anxiety among applicants who have completed the application process but are uncertain about when their passports will be ready.
B&FT has further gathered that the shortage has encouraged middle-men to step in with a promise to assist applicants to “fast-track” the process, at a cost of GH¢250 in one case the B&FT learnt about.
“There is a shortage of the passport booklets, so all new applicants are going through the picture- taking and biometric data-capturing process but no booklets are issued. The applicants will have to come back later, when the situation normalises, for a collection date,” a middle-man who spoke to the B&FT said.
An official of Buck Press who spoke to the B&FT did not deny that the company had held back supplies because it was owed, even though he referred the paper to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speak on the issue. Calls placed to the Minister, Ms. Hanna Tetteh, were not answered.
Officially, all passport applicants are to purchase a regular form for GH¢50 and an express application form for GH¢100 from selected banks across the country, then fill and submit it with supporting documents to the Passport Application Centre.
The applicants’ biometric details are then taken and a collection date issued. The collection date, per the official arrangement, is one month after submitting a regular application and nine days after submitting an express application.
However, this seemingly clever arrangement is undermined by undue delays and a stressful biometric data-capturing process, which involves applicants queuing for long hours at the Passport Application Centre (PAC) to take their turn.
Officially, the offices of the PAC open between 8:30am and 4pm on weekdays. However, applicants report to the centre as early as 4am to have any chance of getting their data captured.