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22.04.2004 General News

Passport Officers Under Fire

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The Minister of the Interior has condemned the corruption associated with the issuance of passports, saying that he had observed the manipulation of the system by officials of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the frustration experienced by passport applicants.

Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyeman warned, therefore, that his Ministry would make an example of anyone who was caught engaging in passport fraud. Mr Owusu-Agyeman was rounding off his two-day working visit to the Brong-Ahafo Region with an address on Tuesday to a gathering of GIS personnel stationed here.

The Minister said that there was “too much politics” in the GIS, especially at the regional level, and wished that this would become a thing of the past. He stated that the government was committed to decentralizing the process for Issuing Ghana passports, but said until that was done, he expected “sanity” to prevail and he would not tolerate “indiscipline” in the operation of the system as it exists.

Mr Owusu-Agyeman asked the personnel to show their unflinching loyalty to the State and to ensure that they expelled from the country all undesirable aliens.

He was pleased that the GIS had achieved its targets under the Gateway Programme. A similar meeting was held with the Regional Directorate of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), at which the Minister disclosed that the government had ordered four new specialized fire tenders for the GNFS to help fight the bush fires that are common in parts of the country. The bush fire tenders, the first of their kind ever to be imported into Ghana, were acquired at a cost of about ¢2.1 billion, which was drawn from the HIPC fund.

He said the government was appreciative of the efforts the GNFS was making to deal with fire outbreaks, and would do all it could to provide better logistics and improved conditions of service. Several issues were considered during the forum, amongst which were the government's failure to insure firemen or to permit them to carry firearms.